Dean’s Blog

Leadership Impact Day

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on March 5, 2012 at 7:03 AM PST

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!

 

Jim Sinegal

Posted by Barbara Hauke on March 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM PST

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!

 

Dean Data

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on March 1, 2012 at 9:03 AM PST

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! :}

 

 

 

David Beckmann

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on February 29, 2012 at 3:02 PM PST

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World, a member based organization advocating to "strengthen U.S. political commitment to overcome hunger and poverty in this country and globally."  He spoke on February 28th as part of the Albers Executive Speaker Series, with the theme, "Exodus from Hunger."  His talk was co-sponsored with the College of Arts and Science, School of Theology and Ministry, and Campus Ministry.

 

In his opening remarks, Beckmann noted it was not typical for his talks to be sponsored by a business school, but SU is where he would expect it to happen! 

 

One of the points Beckmann made was that when it comes to improving living standards, we are making progress globally.  He used an example of Bangladesh, where he worked 35 years ago and recently returned to visit.  In travelling to the remote village that he lived in, the improvements in the quality of life there were quite striking - ranging from the quality of housing stock, to flood control construction, to paved roads, to better nutrition, to cell phones.  The example shows that when measured over decades and not year to year, we really are making progress in fighting poverty.

 

As for our own country, Beckmann said our progress against hunger and poverty basically stopped in 1974, and we have not moved the needle since.  He attributes this to simply not trying to address the issue.  The agenda of his organization is to restore the political will to address poverty in the US.

 

In terms of advice for students, he noted that when you are young and have fewer commitments, you have more flexibility and should use that freedom to work on really important issues.  He also observed that it is a good time to take chances, and he observed that we are often too risk averse.

 

Beckmann also said that students should not underestimate what advocacy can accomplish, and even small changes do add up and positively affect people.

 

To illustrate that, he told the story of his adopted son, Andrew.  When Andrew turned 18 and looked up his birth mother, they learned she had been a struggling student and used the WIC program to insure she was adequately nourished during her pregnancy.  It was during those same years that Bread for the World was battling to protect the WIC program from cut backs, so the work of Bread for the World had a very palpable impact on Beckmann and his family.  He added that the birth mother became a member of Bread for the World shortly after being contacted by Andrew because she understood the importance of the WIC program and thus the importance of the work of Bread for the World.

 

As a school offering a specialization in International Economic Development, it should not be surprising that we would want to host the President of Bread for the World.  Of course, when Beckmann describes himself as a "Lutheran Jesuit," there is all the more reason to have him visit campus!

 

John Stanton

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on January 25, 2012 at 3:01 PM PST

On January 24th, John Stanton was the speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series.  John has a long and distinguished career in the wireless industry and has been part of the industry since its very beginnings.  He focused on the unintended consequences of government regulatory efforts in cellular.

 

Three decades ago ATT was a monopolist in the telephone industry, and in an effort to create more competition, the federal government created eight successor regional phone companies.  On top of that, the government wanted to create the wireless industry and struggled with how to distribute operating rights. First, it attempted an application process trying to select the most qualified applicants, it then moved to a lottery, and finally an auction.  In each case there were challenges, and an end result was that it took over ten years to distribute the licenses.  This put our wireless sector well behind companies in other countries.

 

Because the resulting distribution of companies lacked scale in an industry with huge capital needs, a wave of consolidation naturally followed.  This ultimately resulted in our current duopoly, with ATT and Verizon controlling 80% of the market and Sprint and T-Mobile struggling to stay in business.

 

We have come full circle.  We started out in the US with a monopoly, and now have a duopoly.

 

When you stop and think about it, the wireless industry is an amazing story.  At one point, John said there were six billion cell phones being used around the world.  Three decades ago the number was zero.  What an incredible expansion story of an industry!

 

John's story was about how to navigate this unpredictable and volatile environment.  His three recommendations were:

 

  1. Work with a great group of people who are good at what they do and enjoy working with each other.
  2. Be agile in your decision making. You need to be able to react to changing circumstances.
  3. Never run out of cash!  Good advice for any start up business!

 

John also acknowledged that along the way his businesses had been lucky.  They may have benefitted from the mistake of a competitor or just happened to be in the right place at the right time (such as one of the lotteries for cellular rights!).  Frankly, it was refreshing to hear John acknowledge the role of luck.  Too many successful people are not willing to do that.

 

I am currently reading the book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.  It is a good book, and one of the topics Kahneman takes up is the role of luck in success.  He notes that too few people are willing to acknowledge the role of luck in their success, so it is interesting to have John as an exception to the rule.  I have long held the view that luck is underappreciated, so I naturally am very receptive to this concept!  By the way, Susan Weihrich gave me this book to read.  Wonder what she intended for me to learn from the book?!

 

John was asked about the value of mentoring in his career development.  He shared with the audience the most valuable advice he received from one of his mentors:

 

  1. Be slightly underpaid
  2. Be fiercely competent
  3. Be mobile, as in be willing to move to opportunities in new places and organizations.

 

John's visit was another great opportunity for our students to hear from a very successful business leader.  He was a pioneer in shaping a new industry.  Those people are hard to find, and when you find one, you are really lucky! :}

 

 

 

 

Academy of Finance

Posted by Liz Wick on January 17, 2012 at 9:01 AM PST

Last week we launched our eighth annual Academy of Finance course. Thirty students from Franklin, Ballard, Chief Sealth, and Ingraham High Schools will be coming to campus for eight weeks and be taking classes on various business subjects, including marketing, economics, and business communications. They also receive information on the college application process and financial aid.

 

In presenting this program, we partner with the Seattle Public Schools and local chapter of the National Academy Foundation (NAF). NAF was founded in 1982 and works to prepare young people for college and career success by providing industry-focused curriculum to underserved students in four areas - Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, and Engineering. NAF's network has grown to 500 academies and serves more than 50,000 students across 41 states, D.C, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

Students come to campus to take a class once a week. This forces them to navigate the campus (including parking!) and see for themselves what life on a college campus is like.

 

They take classes from Albers faculty and do a final project that integrates the course work they have taken. This year, the classes are in Business Communications, Operations, Ethics, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Economics. If students fulfill all requirements for the course, they earn a college credit from Seattle U.

 

Jessica Young is a student in our Master of Professional Accounting Program (MPAC) who works full-time at Boeing. Jessica is on the local NAF board, and was there to greet the students last week. Jessica noted that she participated in the first Academy of Finance program at SU back in 2005! As a result of the program, she really wanted to attend Albers, but ultimately chose to attend UW because of the cost. After graduating from UW with an accounting degree, she took a job with Boeing and is now a part-time student in our MPAC program. It is great to have Jessica back as a student at SU and to see her involvement with the Academy of Finance!

 

We are pleased to be able to partner with the Seattle Public Schools and the local NAF organization to work with these students each year. We are very grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their learning and inspire them to pursue business studies at the university level!

2011

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on January 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM PST

The start of 2012 is a good time to look back and recall the highlights of 2011.  All in all, it was another good year for the Albers School!

 

First, our AACSB accreditation was extended for another five years.  Given the high expectations of AACSB, reaccreditation is never a routine "ticket punch!"

 

We continued to do well in the rankings.  Our part-time MBA program was ranked 52nd by Business Week and 59th by US News and World Report.  Our Leadership EMBA was ranked 18th by US News, and our finance program 24th.  For the first time, our MBA program was ranked in the Grey Pinstripes Top 100.  Our undergraduate program was ranked 115th by US News, and our accounting and finance programs were in the US News Top 25.  Business Week ranked our undergraduate program 4th in sustainability and 7th in business ethics.

 

We developed and launched our Health Leadership EMBA program, getting all the necessary approvals within a six month period and beginning to recruit in May for an August class.  Now that is aggressive!

 

Our students showed they perform at a high level of accomplishment.  Our SIFE team finished ninth in the nation and our Beta Alpha Psi chapter was one of only seven in the nation to receive the Gold Chapter Award.  Our graduate students won the Pacific Northwest Case Competition and the Seattle Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Investment Research Challenge.  Our Graduate Leadership Formation Specialization students did a stellar job in organizing the second annual Red Winged Leadership Award, presented to Global Visionaries.

 

Our faculty had an excellent year, as well.  Rex Toh received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and three faculty - Jot Yau, Carl Obermiller, and Greg Magnan - earned "Big Hit" recognition for their publications in top journals in their disciplines.  The scholarship of all our faculty was highlighted with our first Celebration of Scholarship event in February.  Of course, they are also continuing with their excellent work in the classroom!

 

We launched the Center for Business Ethics in June, which is supported by an endowment created by the donations of a number of generous benefactors.  We also launched the PMI China Initiative, which will include a series of events exploring the economic integration of China and the US.

 

The Albers Executive Speaker Series had another good year, featuring leaders such as Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco Wholesale, Kimberly Harris, CEO of Puget Sound Energy, and Tun Channareth, Nobel Peace Prize winner.

 

On a personal level, contrary to popular belief, the launching of Dean Blog was not my top highlight of the year.  That would have to be the April 1st edition of Dean Spam! :}

 

 

Reaccreditation

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on December 22, 2011 at 9:12 AM PST

 

On November 1st I wrote about our AACSB accreditation, discussing the visit of the peer review team looking at extending our accreditation for another five years (“reaffirmation” is what AACSB calls it).

 

 This week we received the good news that the AACSB Board of Directors has approved the team’s recommendation that our accreditation be extended!  The extension of our accreditation reflects the excellent work our faculty and staff are doing to provide an outstanding education to our students!  There is a lot of work that needs to be done to meet AACSB’s high expectations, and it is our faculty and staff that get the work done!

 

In the review, the visiting team gave Albers high marks in several areas:

 

  • We were commended for an effective strategic planning process that drives program innovation.
  • Our student advising programs were identified as doing excellent work in supporting student needs.
  • The Albers Placement Center was highlighted for its work in assisting students with career planning.
  • Our outreach to the business community through our advisory boards was highlighted, and in particular our engagement of boards in the strategic planning process and in faculty recruiting.
  • Our Mentor Program was spotlighted for the opportunities it provides to students.

 

The report also encouraged us to continue our efforts to enhance and support the quality and impact of faculty scholarship and to seek ways to expand our financial resources.

 

AACSB is the premier business accrediting body worldwide.  Currently, there are 643 accredited schools in 43 countries, and less than 5% of the world’s business schools are accredited.  AACSB is all about quality business education and continuous improvement.  Once you are accredited, you want to make sure you stay accredited!

 

As I mentioned on November 1, re-accreditation is not automatic and requires our continuous attention.  It is not something you can pull together in the six months before the visit.  A visiting team will be back in Fall, 2016.  In the meantime, we will maintain our commitment to quality business education and continuous improvement!

 

Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2012!

 

Undergrad Leadership Program

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on December 6, 2011 at 4:12 PM PST

 

Last week, Susan Weihrich, Teresa Ling, and I met with students from our Undergraduate Leadership Program.  They invited us for breakfast, so of course we had to show up!  Sharon Lobel is the faculty member overseeing the program, and she was there as well.  

 

This is an impressive group of students who have obviously benefitted from Sharon’s guidance.  They are going to significantly contribute to the Albers School over the next two or three years (they are sophomores and juniors).  Many of them are already taking on leadership roles in some of the student organizations in the Albers School, and they are looking for other ways to contribute to our “ecosystem.”

 

One initiative they are launching is the Albers Leadership Club.  This will be a vehicle for them to continue contributing to the school.  One function of this club will be to encourage all club leaders to come together and share best practices while pursuing collaborative activities.  We all agree that our student organizations can have a greater impact and events will be more successful if the clubs collaborate with each other.

 

In answer to their question about what more they could do for Albers, we challenged them with several areas, including “what should we be doing to recruit more freshmen to the Albers School?” and “how can we get more undergraduate students to attend the Albers Executive Speaker Series?”  Our speakers always do a great job and I am always disappointed with the low turnout of undergraduate students who can really benefit from attending!

 

The students asked some great questions.  At one point they asked what leadership roles I had when I was an undergraduate student at LaSalle University back in the day.  Now that is an interesting question and one I had not thought about!  I was able to remember being President of the Economics Club and being the student representative at meetings of the Department of Economics.  

 

But what really seemed to interest them was me being part of a start-up club called Gallery Associates.  Our role was to support the newly opened art gallery at the university, and I was able to tell them that it was only because of my art history teacher that I was inspired to get involved with this group!  After all, economists are left-brained people, right, and no one is more so than me, so how in the world did I end up in the art gallery??

 

We reminded them that there are many opportunities for leadership, and they do not all flow from one’s rank or title.  One can lead by seeing something that needs to be addressed and taking the initiative to fix it.

 

It was very inspiring for the three of us to spend time with this group of student leaders.  They are a talented and savvy bunch, and we look forward to seeing the contributions to the Albers School and SU that they will make during their time here, and the impact they will have on their profession and community after graduation!

 

 

 

Contact Hours

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on December 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM PST

 

Contact Hours??  A blog about contact hours??  Why blog about contact hours, and what are they anyway?

 

Contact hours are the time faculty is supposed to spend working with students in a course.  A contact hour is actually 50 minutes, not 60.  Our typical three credit graduate course, for example, is supposed to have thirty contact hours.  The typical five credit undergraduate class is supposed to have fifty contact hours.

 

It turns out that with some frequency some of our graduate courses are getting shorted contact hours.  Every winter quarter it seems that some classes are meeting only nine times, meaning only 27 contact hours.  That's a 10% shortfall for the course!  In the eight week summer term, some of our graduate classes have closer to 26 contact hours.

 

I am not sure how long this problem has been there, but we finally decided to do something about it.  Beginning with the Spring, 2012 quarter, we will start adding time to courses that would otherwise be shorted.  For example, a ten week class that meets only nine times and would normally run from 6:00 to 8:40 PM will now meet each evening from 6:00 to 8:55 PM.  The times will be on the schedule and students and faculty will know in advance and be able to plan accordingly.

 

I really don’t know why we let this situation go on for so long.  Our graduate classes don’t have many contact hours to begin with, so missing them shortchanges students and makes it impossible for faculty to cover the material they planned to cover.

 

It is an example of getting used to something that we should have recognized as being incompatible with academic excellence.  I think the lesson is, “Be Vigilant!”  Big or small, there are lots of things out there that we can change for the better!