Dean’s Blog

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!

Journey to the Middle East

Posted by Joseph Phillips on March 5, 2018 at 8:03 AM PST

I just returned from a trip to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to visit SU alumni in the two countries.  We have about 60 alums in Kuwait and 160 in Saudi Arabia.  As for future alums from there, we currently have 57 Saudis studying with us and (only) two students from Kuwait.  An important component of our trip was to learn how to improve on that!

I accompanied Jim Hembree from University Advancement, who does all the organizing and worrying on these trips, and is really good at both! :)

My trip actually started with a trip to Washington, D.C. for a meeting at Georgetown University.  It was the Second International Jesuit Networking Conference, aimed at promoting more networking across the different arenas of Jesuit activity.  I was invited because of my role as President of the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools.  IAJBS is one of the few examples of Jesuit institutions from around the world coming together to collaborate in a sustained way.  While I am familiar with the work of Jesuit institutions in higher education, it was fascinating to learn about the work of Jesuit organizations in other areas such as refugee services, the environment, and K-12 education.  It was also a privilege to meet many of the leaders, often Jesuits from around the world, in these other apostolates.

When I left the Georgetown campus to head to Dulles Airport it was in a rare driving snowstorm in DC!  How ironic to start a trip to the desert in a snowstorm!  Luckily, my Uber driver had a Ford Explorer!

The first stop was Kuwait City, where I caught up with Jim, who had arrived a day earlier for planning purposes.  This was my first time in the Middle East!  I was actually very sick with some kind of cold or flu that had started a week earlier, but somehow worsened near the end of the journey to Kuwait, but I rallied to stay on the schedule Jim had crafted.

I think we ended up seeing 17 of our 60 Kuwaiti alumni in individual or group meetings.  Most of our alums are graduates of Albers or our engineering programs.  They are an impressive group playing important roles in Kuwaiti society.  In fact, I would argue that Seattle U is having more impact on Kuwait than any country in the world.  While 60 sounds like a small number, our alums are really making a difference there.  For example, one is Speaker of the Parliament, arguably the second most important political position in the country behind the Kuwaiti King.

Our Kuwaiti alums were very happy with their SU education and enthusiastic about having other Kuwaitis follow them to SU.  They want to help us recruit Kuwait students and we need to find a way to harness that good will and energy!

Next, we took a short flight to Dammam in Saudi Arabia, the closest airport to Al Khobar, where we would be staying.  Al Khobar is on the Saudi coast near Bahrain.  It was the university’s first visit to the Eastern Province.  We have fewer alums there, so we ended up meeting with four alumni, three of whom were bankers!  Al Khobar proved to be the most tranquil spot on our trip, without the traffic and noise of bigger cities like Kuwait City and Riyadh!

Then it was on to Riyadh!  Here we connected with 24 alumni and two SU parents in individual and group meetings.  As in Kuwait, our Saudi alums are very grateful for their SU education and very interested in helping us recruit more Saudis to SU.  While in Riyadh we also visited the US Embassy to learn more about recruiting Saudi students and we also visited a local university — Prince Sultan University, which has 5,000 students and is the top rated private university in Saudi.  We talked about ways that PSU and SU might collaborate.  An alum also took us to the Janidriya Festival, which is a huge celebration of Saudi culture that was taking place during our visit.  There were very large crowds there but we managed not to get lost!

On the final day, we made a visit to the Ministry of Education to learn more about the best ways to recruit Saudi students.  We heard that the Saudi government scholarship program wants to focus Saudi students on attending the Top 200 universities in the QS University rankings.  Almost all of those universities are research and graduate student focused institutions, so that does not make a lot of sense for undergraduate students.  Nevertheless, the ministry indicated they can make exceptions to the policy when a student makes a strong case.  The ministry is very focused on rankings, and SU and Albers have plenty of rankings, so we should be able to give Saudi students some material to work with in putting together a persuasive application!

We capped the visit to Saudi with a trip into the Saudi desert to visit a camping site for dinner, hosted by one of our alums.  Bet you didn’t know that Saudis love to camp!

After the dinner, I headed to the airport for my red-eye flight back to Seattle.  Jim left the next morning for Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Sorry, but I had to pass on that part of the trip because I do have to be in the office from time to time.  Between this trip and two other trips in February, I was in the office for a whopping five days in February!

INRIX CEO on the Future of Transportation

Posted by Joseph Phillips on February 2, 2018 at 5:02 PM PST



Bryan Mistele, CEO of INRIX, was the featured speaker in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on February 1st.  INRIX is a leading provider of real-time transportation information, connected car services and analytics worldwide.   If you are using a traffic app on your smart phone, the data is likely to be coming from INRIX, located right here in Seattle.  The title of his presentation was, “The Future of Transportation: The impact Autonomous, Connected, Electric & Shared vehicles will have on society.”

According to Mistele, the future of our transportation is all about ACES – Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared cars!  It is these four trends in automobiles coming together to solve our multiple problems around congestion, safety, pollution, expense, and inconvenience.  The future Mistele sees is everyone getting around in electric, driverless, Uber-convenient vehicles.  In cities such as Seattle, with a fleet of autonomous vehicles operating on demand, we will not need on-street parking, parking lots, shuttle vans for the handicapped, gas stations, and no doubt a host of other things we take for granted.  Even public transit is in jeopardy of going away, according to Mistele.  None of us will need to own or lease a car.  The economics of this vehicle fleet will be too compelling.

Mistele illustrated how fast this scene is changing by noting that 12 years ago when INRIX was first launched, the state of the art for traffic reporting was the helicopter.  Of course, now it is the smart phone app powered by INRIX data, all facilitated by cloud computing and more powerful data transmission capabilities.

And it is not just cars that will be changing, but trucks, as well.  We are not far away from routine autonomous truck delivery.

Of course, autonomous driving and delivery will mean job displacement.  Truck drivers are in short supply compared to demand and labor costs are a very high component of total costs for companies such as Uber.  Autonomous vehicles will address the cost pressures, but what happens to the drivers?  Mistele responded that job displacement has always been an unfortunate part of technological breakthroughs.  In the past, we have shifted labor from one activity to another, but not without some difficulty for some.  In the case of Uber drivers, he sees the situation as slightly less fraught, since Uber has only been around for a few years.  It is not like someone who has been in a career for several decades and now the demand for his or her skill set is no longer there.

There were many business analytics students in the audience.  When asked what advice he would have for them, he was quick to say, “Get your hands dirty!”  Find out how the tools actually work and don’t be satisfied knowing about things in the abstract.

Mistele was asked how INRIX survives as a stand-alone company and does not get swallowed up by a larger tech player.  He responded that they must continually innovate the services they can sell.  They are not just about traffic apps.  For example, they can sell their data to companies who use it to do everything from decide on store location to learning if a competitor’s sales campaign was successful to understanding in-store consumer behavior.  And remember where all this data is coming from – signals coming from smart phones and connected vehicles, and every year there are more and more of both on the road.

He also noted that ACES is not a domestic phenomenon, but a global trend.  INRIX has customers in 60 countries, but he is seeing the most activity in North America, Western Europe, and China.  The changes he expects to see in the US should be happening at the same time in Europe and China.  Emerging markets will be slower to adopt ACES, but they are sure to experience it as well.

Bryan Mistele opened a lot of eyes and minds to future possibilities in transportation.  According to him, in just a few years everything will be coming up ACES!


Albers Faculty Honored with Endowed Professorships

Posted by Joseph Phillips on November 26, 2017 at 2:11 PM PST

Two Albers faculty members were recognized for their outstanding achievements with appointments to endowed professorships.  At an installation ceremony on November 17th, Dr. Jot Yau, Professor of Finance, was recognized as the fifth holder of the George Albers Professorship in Business.  Dr. Tina Zamora, Associate Professor of Accounting, was introduced as the third holder of the David E. Tinius Endowed Professorship in Accounting.

Jot Yau  joined our faculty in 2001.  He serves as the chair of the Department of Finance and previously chaired the Department of Economics and Finance and served as MSF program director. Earlier, he held the Robert D. O’Brien Endowed Chair of Business Administration and the Dr. Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance.  Jot has published numerous articles and scholarly pieces. This includes three books -- Socially Responsible Investment in a Global Environment (Edward Elgar), Dim Sum Bonds: The Offshore Renminbi (RMB)Denominated Bonds (Wiley), and as an editor of Advances in International Investments: Traditional and Alternative Approaches (World Scientific). He has also served as Special Editor of The Journal of Alternative Investments and as associate editor of that journal.  Currently, he is on the editorial board of the International Review of Accounting, Banking and Finance.  Jot has served on the curriculum committee of the CFA Institute and the exam and curriculum committee of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association. He co-founded Strategic Options Investment Advisors Ltd., a Hong Kong-based investment advisory and served as its principal investment advisor and commodity trading advisor. Jot has also served as the treasurer of the Northwest Hedge Fund Society and as a member of the board of directors of Group Health Credit Union (GHCU).  His PhD in finance is from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he has an MBA from the University of Toledo, and his undergraduate degree is from the University of Hong Kong. As you can see, he is a very worthy recipient of the Albers Professorship, with outstanding accomplishments in teaching, research, and service to the school and profession!

Tina Zamora is Associate Professor of Accounting and joined our faculty in 2010.  Tina teaches primarily in the areas of managerial accounting and corporate governance.  Tina’s research examines how financial and fairness incentives and corporate governance impact organizational and individual decisions. Her work has been published in such influential journals as the Journal of Finance, Journal of Business Ethics, Auditing: A Journal of Theory and Practice, Journal of Management Accounting Research, and Issues in Accounting Education. She has served as an Associate Editor for Issues in Accounting Education, and is currently on the Editorial Board of Auditing: A Journal of Theory and Practice. Prior to entering academia, she worked for KPMG for several years as a Senior Tax Specialist.  She has her PhD in accounting from UW and two master’s degrees and her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon.  Here at SU, she has been selected as a Faculty Fellow for both the Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture and the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability. Among her many service activities are  heading up the Department of Accounting's Assurance of Learning efforts, serving on the university Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Advisory Working Group, and assisting with the PMBA Curriculum Implementation.  She has also co-led several successful study tours to the EU.  Given all her success in teaching, research, and service, she is a very worthy recipient of the Tinius Professorship!

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 such as Tina and Jot.   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, and the current holders are:

The Lawrence K. Johnson Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship: Dr. Lisa Zhao, Professor of Entrepreneurship

The Frank Shrontz Endowed Chair in Professional Ethics: Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Professor of Business Ethics

The Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance:  Dr. Peter Brous, Professor of Finance

The Robert D. O’Brien Endowed Chair in Business: Dr. Eva Lasprogata, Associate Professor of Business Law

Currently, we are recruiting to fill the Thomas F. Gleed Endowed Chair in Business Administration, a position given to a visiting faculty member that helps to strengthen the intellectual climate of the Albers School.

We have five professorships, including the George Albers Professorship and the Tinius Professorship received by Jot and Tina, respectively.  The others are the Robert Bosanko Endowed Professorship in International Economics and Finance, currently held by Dr. Bonnie Buchanan, Associate Professor of Finance, as well as the Genevieve Albers Professorship, held by Dr. Marc Cohen, Associate Professor of Business Ethics, and the Eva Albers Professorship, held by Dr. Quan Le, Associate Professor of Economics.

The three Albers Professorships are funded by the Genevieve Albers Endowment, which was left to the Albers School to support our programs.  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 from the estate of Genevieve Albers, the daughter of George and Eva 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 which uses the brand today for corn meal and grits.

The Tinius Professorship was named after Dave Tinius, a member of our accounting faculty from 1971 to 2015. Dave served as department chair for 18 years between 1977 and 2003.  Many of the distinguishing features of our accounting program happened under his leadership of the department.  This includes our Beta Alpha Psi chapter, the Accounting Awards Banquet, the department advisory board, the Master of Professional Accounting program, and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.  We are fortunate to have this professorship to remind us of Dave’s critical role in building up our outstanding accounting program!  The endowment was created with contributions from the many accounting alumni and professionals who admired the career of Dave Tinius!

Congratulations to Jot Yau and Tina Zamaro for these recognitions of their outstanding work, and many thanks to our donors who have made this recognition possible!




Venture Capitalist Out to Beat Economic Inequality

Posted by Joseph Phillips on November 8, 2017 at 5:11 PM PST



Venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and social activist Nick Hanauer joined the Albers Executive Speaker Series on November 7th to speak on economic inequality and its effect on the social fabric of the US.  He argued that inequality is polarizing our society and too many are being left behind.

Hanauer is a widely admired entrepreneur and investor. He is a co-founder and partner in the Seattle-based venture capital firm, Second Avenue Partners. In 2015, he also founded Civic Ventures, an organization pursuing significant social change, and has been involved in initiatives on gun control, the minimum wage law, and homelessness.

Hanauer has managed, founded or financed over 30 companies, including companies like Amazon, Aquantive, Insitu, and Marchex.  With those bona fides, he argued, he knows just as much about capitalism as anyone else.  Hard to argue with that!

What has led to this precarious state of affairs?  Hanauer argues it is not due to forces such as globalization or changes in technology, but rather comes from our unthinking acceptance of Trickle Down Economics.  He has reprised this characterization of Reaganomics to apply it to contemporary thinking.  Trickle Down Economics includes tax cuts for the wealthy, economic deregulation, and what he terms “wage suppression.”  Wage suppression is founded on the claim that higher wages kills jobs.

Hanauer repeatedly asserted that higher wages will not result in reduced employment, but rather will increase jobs by generating the buying power to increase consumption and spur business activity.  He identified a significantly increased minimum wage law, such as $15/hour, as a sure fire remedy to the inequality problem.

Not everyone agrees with Hanauer on that point, of course, including me, but he is right to a point.  Yet there is some level at which a higher minimum wage becomes counterproductive as the unintended consequences kick in and employment opportunities fall and prices increase.

Everyone knows that the City of Seattle is running a huge experiment with its minimum wage law by boosting the minimum wage significantly – it is supposed to reach $18/hour for some employers by 2025.  Economists are studying the phenomenon to learn more about the impact of such laws.  There are competing studies coming to different conclusions about the early data, but ultimately this will get sorted out.  Data on the full effects of the law will become available.  The profession will review the studies and come to a consensus on the best methodologies and the soundest conclusions.  Of course, Hanauer does not want to wait for that.  He is advocating for minimum wage hikes nationwide now.  No surprise there – he is an evangelist, not an economist. :}

In the follow up Q&A, Hanauer was asked how he navigates between his two worlds of investors-entrepreneurs-the Chamber of Commerce and activists-unions-philanthropists.  He said he does not try to appeal to people on the edges, but looks to find a super-majority in the middle of reasonable people.  He cited the $15/hour movement as an example.  Of course, you can count on the social justice crowd to be in favor, but you also have to rally a sizable group in the middle with the argument that a higher minimum wage creates the buying power necessary for economic growth.

When asked what concerned people should be doing about inequality, he said the most important thing to do was to resist the “raising wages kills jobs” argument.  Higher wages do not kill jobs, they create them.  His idea is to shame people into not making this argument and make it the equivalent of uttering a racial slur.

He was asked what role social enterprise might play in fighting economic inequality.  He started his answer by saying we need a new measure of economic prosperity.  GDP and similar measures have a number of flaws, including an inability to consider issues of environmental sustainability.  We need a new measure that takes into account the problems that are solved, such as unemployment or low wages.  Measured in this way, social enterprise has an important role to play because it is always geared around solving a social problem.

When asked about his view of the impact of trade on wages, he said that free trade had a disastrous impact on some communities.  He said he had recently attended a conference organized by the Institute of New Economic Thinking, and found that many economists were rethinking their neo-classical views on trade policy.  He may be overstating that rethinking, but certainly even neo-classical models would not give a gold star to trade with China since so many model assumptions are violated by China’s interventionist policies on imports and exports.  And of course traditional free trade models have always punted when it comes to the distribution of the benefits of trade, knowing they would be skewed and that redistributionist policies would be needed (but never really executed).

One questioner wanted to know about the impact of the next recession (and it is coming at some point) on workers benefiting from a $15/hour minimum wage.  Won’t a recession trigger an increase in savings, a decrease in demand, and a decrease in jobs?  Hanauer noted that what is different about today is the “super abundance” of capital – there are a lot of places for business to borrow (and he could add that may not be unrelated to the unequal distribution of wealth), so there should be no credit shortage in the next recession.  Well, maybe, but lenders could impose higher lending standards and capital could be cut off that way, as occurred in the Great Recession.    He also noted that high wage/low inequality nations (read Scandinavian economies) are more resilient in a recession than other economies.

The final question asked what he saw as the difference between a good people manager and a good leader.  He responded that a leader has vision.  He or she has a clear, bold idea and they are able to energize and motivate a group around that vision.  Sounds like Hanauer on the issue of economic inequality!

As an economist, I squirm at the sweeping statements Hanauer makes about the minimum wage and trade policy.  But there is no denying that economic inequality has become a serious issue for us and we need to do more than talk about it.  Maybe he has decided this is the best way to get us to take action on this critical problem.  In any event, he is a stimulating and provocative speaker who we were happy to have on our campus!