Dean’s Blog

Jamie Nordstrom

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on November 13, 2015 at 11:11 AM PST

Jamie Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom Stores, participated in the Albers Executive Speaker Series on November 12 th .  Nordstrom was appointed President of Nordstrom Stores in May, 2014.  Prior to that, he was President of Nordstrom Direct starting in 2005.  A fourth generation family member, Jamie began his career in the stockroom of the Bellevue, Wash. store in 1986.  He  worked  in  sales  in  shoes  through  high  school  and  college, and   went   on   to   hold   numerous   positions   with   the   company   in   store   and   buying management.

Jamie started his remarks by reviewing the history of the company and the work of the three previous generations of Nordstrom's to get it to where it is today.  I take that back - he actually started his remarks by referencing the release of the company's latest earnings report that day, which had triggered a 20% drop in the stock price, so it was clear that being at Seattle University was going to be the best part of his day!

From its very beginnings as a shoe store, Nordstrom has focused on gaining customer loyalty, not around price, but around service.  With that philosophy, it became a very strong brand in the Northwest.  But in 1971, in order to facilitate the transfer of the company from the second to third generation, the family took the company public and that required growth.  Thus began the nationwide expansion of Nordstrom to where today they have 320 locations in the US and Canada.

Despite the results of the last quarter, Nordstrom has to be considered one of the best retailers out there. Jamie provided insights on how they see customers changing and how they are responding.

Not all the Options - in the good old days, the customer went to the store and selected from the available options.  Nowadays, a customer can check his or her phone for a wider selection.  You must get better at providing more options (like locating items from other stores).

Informed Customer - in the good old days, you could tell a customer anything about an item and they would not know the difference.  Nowadays, a customer can check his or her phone and know more than the sales associate, including prices at the competition.

Price Transparency - in the good old days, you would watch the prices of your competitor down the street.  Nowadays, a customer can check his or her phone and find the price anywhere.  All the more reason to compete on service, not price!

Jamie noted that when competing on service, one has to realize that the definition of great customer service is changing over time.  Same day shipping and curbside pickup matter today but were not expected in the past.  He also cautioned that customers are not so much looking for speedy  service, as they are looking to control their time.  He gave a great illustration of how in the good old days, you would call for a cab and wait and wait, wondering when it would arrive.  Now you can use Uber and you can see exactly when the driver should arrive.  Both could take the same amount of time, but you feel better about the wait for Uber.

In the question and answer session, he was asked when Nordstrom would be expanding outside the US and Canada.  His answer was -- not any time too soon.  They first have to get it right in those two markets and Asia and Europe seem to be well served these days.

When asked about preserving the culture of Nordstrom, Jamie said he likes their strategy of combining long time employees who have worked their way up (like him!) with new hires that bring new skills and experience at other organizations.  The culture is to be nice to one another and support one another in taking risks and trying new things.  While being nice internally, they also like to pound the competition and win!  They emphasize that retailing is a "team sport" and you need to be part of the team. 

Interestingly, he mentioned that our previous speaker, Alan Mulally, former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, came to Nordstrom several years ago and spoke of his "One Ford" strategy.  They realized that Alan was also talking about their culture, so since then they have started a "One Nordstrom" campaign!

When asked about the future of on-line retail, Jamie responded that e-commerce is in its infancy.  He also noted that from 2005 to 2010 they ran the on-line business as a mature business, managing expenses and net income and not spending for growth.  That changed in 2010 and now they are investing heavily in their on-line business, which has become their engine for growth.

A question was posed about which customer the company should be focusing on.  Jamie noted that few customers buy only high end items. Instead, they mix and match items of different price points, so you will often see someone with $30 pants and $400 boots.  It's not about getting all of someone's business.  Instead of price, customers are really looking for something new  (as I write this, I am wearing my new  brown pants from Nordstrom for the first time!), so Nordstrom aims to provide the hottest and latest merchandise.

When asked about his leadership style, Jamie responded that the best leaders support people to be more successful.  They make others believe they genuinely care about them and are invested in their success.

Finally, the question came about the stock price.  Jamie responded that it was a bad quarter, with growth coming in at 1% instead of the 6-7% range they had been seeing, and it is not uncommon for a bad quarter to show up.  The key to responding is to manage inventories through these ups and downs and he said they are very good at that.  He added he felt very good about their ability to handle a bad quarter.

When it rains in Seattle, the turnout for the speaker series always takes a hit, but we had a very large crowd in attendance.  That shows you the power of the Nordstrom brand among our students!  Jamie is just one of four Nordstrom's at the top of the organization.  Would the turnout have been any different if it were Blake, Erik, or Pete?  Probably not, and the message would surely have been the same!  It was an evening of great insights on the retailing industry!

Want to see a great picture?!

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on November 6, 2015 at 9:11 AM PST

This picture features all the people who have served as chair of our Department of Accounting in its 45+ year history!  What a great picture!  Dave Tinius was the first and longest serving chair of the department.  Bill Weis also served during some of the earlier years.  After the completion of Dave's 18 years, Susan Weihrich followed Dave.  She handed it off to Bruce Koch in 2006, and this year Bruce  passed the baton to Chips Chipalkatti.

One thing for sure is that the department has benefited from outstanding leadership over the years!  Each of these individuals has made significant contributions to the progress and development of our accounting program.  Thank you Dave, Bill, Susan, Bruce, and Chips!

Alan Mulally

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on October 29, 2015 at 4:10 PM PDT

Alan Mulally, retired President and CEO of the Ford Motor Company, recently spoke to students in the Albers School on the theme of, "Strategic & Operational Leadership and Working Together."  There were nearly 350 in the audience on October 28th.

Mulally's prepared remarks largely followed themes in the book American Icon, by Bruce Hoffman, which chronicles Mulally's work to get Ford back on its feet after the Great Recession. Mulally served as President and CEO of Ford Motor Company from 2006 to 2014.  Through his One Ford plan, he led Ford back to being a leading auto company worldwide and number one in the US market.  He is also widely recognized as the Detroit CEO who did not go to Washington DC to borrow money during the Great Recession.  Judging from the audience reaction to that fact, it is an important aspect of his reputation today as a successful business leader!


Prior to Ford, starting in 1969 Mulally worked at Boeing, where he rose to become Boeing Executive Vice President and President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes before leaving to take over Ford.  Throughout his career, Mulally has been recognized for his industry leadership, including being named by Fortune Magazine  as #3 among the "World's Greatest Leaders" and one of the "World's Most Influential People" by Time Magazine.  Currently he serves on the boards of Google and Carbon3D.

Mulally addressed some of the difficulties he faced when he joined Ford.  One major problem was that the company had become very regionalized, with divisions around the globe divided by geography, and this prevented the company from creating economies of scale.  A second problem was a culture of hiding problems.  When he introduced his green-yellow-red spreadsheet review system, and the company was poised to lose $17 billion, all the items were coming in "green," meaning everything was on track.  But of course, it could not be.

Over time he worked to reshape the culture and get people to work together.  Later in the Q&A, he noted that leaders set the culture and it is one of the most important things they do.  He shared with the audience the culture he wanted to establish at Boeing and Ford:

The key for him is that the leader must create an environment where everyone is working together.  Not only does the leader need to lead by example, but also must be quick to call out those who are not respecting the principles.  He said that leading is like gardening, taking good care of your people like you would take care of your plants.

One of the most important reflections of the night was successful leaders move from "I to we" and "Me to service."  Those six words are very powerful and so consistent with what our students hear from us!  Leadership is about how you are enabling others!

It is also clear that Mulally's success as a leader is very much tied to the business plan and the business plan review (BPR) process.  The BPR brings everyone together frequently and is an important tool for accountability and transparency.  It also is a mechanism for people to help each other identify and fix problems, and so is an important part of "Working Together."  It lets everyone know what is going on and gives everyone the opportunity to contribute.  In answer to a question about responding to unexpected events and shifts in the environment, Mulally noted the BPR is the perfect tool for responding.  Updates are a routine part of the process.

When asked if he had any suggestions for achieving work-life balance, Mulally said he thinks of a diagram with many overlapping circles that represent family, work, community, faith, etc… that sit inside a larger circle that he labels as "One Life" and "Life's Work."  Those smaller circles overlap and compete and you must figure out what is important to you.  Then look at your calendar.  Are the priorities on your calendar?  If not, start scheduling accordingly!

I told him afterwards that I like that diagram because it aligns with my view that it is not about work-life balance, it is about work-life integration  and how to make what is important to you fit together.

He then told the audience about the "family meetings" they used to have in the Mulally household every Sunday, which were really BPRs.  There were certain rituals built into those meetings, one being that everyone came in with their schedule for the week.  Then they figured out how they were getting to ball games, music lessons, dance class, etc… and he was able to put that into his calendar!  Apparently, the kids complain bitterly about those meetings today, but he says they hold their own family BPRs now!

Alan Mulally is arguably one of the most successful business leaders of our time.  His awareness of the importance of culture and teamwork, combined with his ability to establish a compelling vision and plan and execute around that, while tying that all together, is really very distinctive.  This made for a compelling and inspiring evening for our students!

AACSB Honors Two Albers Alums

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on October 16, 2015 at 1:10 PM PDT

To celebrate its 100 th  Anniversary, AACSB has identified 100 graduates of business schools worldwide as Influential Leaders.   AACSB is the premier global accrediting body for business schools.  These graduates are being recognized for their innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, business impact, and influence on social change.  The honorees come from schools in 21 nations and span 20 different industries.   The Albers School was fortunate enough to have two alumni selected -- H.E. Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar and Gary P. Brinson.  It is a distinct honor to have two or our alums in the group because there are so many deserving business school graduates out their having a positive impact on our world!

Mohamed Alabbar is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the Middle East and has had a major impact on the economics of the region. He graduated from Albers in 1981 with a degree in business administration and returned to Dubai to take a position in the Central Bank of the UAE as manager of banking supervision. He came from a poor family and was the first in the family to earn a college degree.  Later, he was appointed director and general manager of Al Khaleej Investments, a government-owned investment company with significant real estate interests, and through this position he established his presence in the real estate sector.

In 1992, Alabbar established Dubai's Department of Economic Development, which had notable success in opening doors to the private sector, initiating innovative public policies to strengthen the trade and business segments and establishing a culture of transparency and openness. In the process, he established a close relationship with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, and he later became one of Sheikh Mohammed's trusted economic advisers.

In 1997, Alabbar helped established Emaar Properties-Dubai's largest real estate group. Emaar's projects include some of Dubai's most notable landmarks, such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and the Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall. Alabbar also facilitated a partnership with Giorgio Armani and established Emaar Hotels & Resorts LLC in an exclusive deal to launch a collection of luxury hotels in the designer brand's name. He is also known for creating the annual month-long Dubai Shopping Festival. Today, Emaar is not just active in Dubai but has initiatives in 18 countries around the globe.

Alabbar is well known for his pioneering role in positioning Dubai as a world-class city. He has been recognized for his business acumen and his influence in the Arab region in many prominent publications: Arabian Business, fDi Magazine, Fortune, Euromoney Magazine, and Advertising Age. Alabbar has put his status and leadership abilities to good use by serving as a member of the Dubai Executive Council and the Dubai Economic Council, as well as vice chair of the Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL).

In addition to his impact on the regional economy, Alabbar has also created several corporate social responsibility initiatives and supports various local organizations, such as the Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs. Focused on the need to promote affordable and low-cost housing, Emaar Properties undertook the reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged village of Ngelepen in Indonesia. Alabbar also initiated a social housing project in Egypt, the Beyout residential project for the economically underprivileged. Finally, Alabbar has supported SU by serving on our board of trustees and making generous financial gifts to support university initiatives.

Gary Brinson graduated from the Albers School in 1966 with a degree in finance.  Growing up in Renton, WA, he worked his way through SU working at Oberto Sausage.  After graduation, Brinson earned an MBA from Washington State University. He was set to enter the PhD program at Stanford but was instead encouraged by Yale professor Eli Shapiro to join a portfolio management group at Traveler's Insurance for a year or two. He decided to veer from his academic plan to try his hand at investing.

Through the 1970s, Brinson rose to become CEO of Traveler's Investment Management Company. He became interested in investing globally, which was quite novel at the time, and joined First Chicago Bank to pursue that interest in 1981. By 1989 Brinson and his coworkers bought out their investment group from First Chicago and founded Brinson Partners.

In the mid-1990s Brinson Partners was acquired by Swiss Bank, and subsequently Swiss Bank acquired UBS. Brinson took over as chair of UBS Asset Management and led the group until 2001. According to published reports, Brinson was overseeing the management of approximately $1 trillion, a very large amount at the time.

Brinson has been very active in the CFA Institute (formerly AIMR), the organization that oversees the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. In 1999, Brinson received AIMR's Award for Professional Excellence. Other recipients include John Bogle, Warren Buffet, and John Templeton. Brinson has further distinguished himself as the recipient of the FMA's Outstanding Financial Executive award and the Graham and Dodd Scroll.

When CFA Institute Magazine  ran a cover story in 2003 about living legends in the investment profession, Brinson was one of seven individuals featured in the article (along with Buffet and Templeton).

Although Brinson never made it back to Stanford to pursue a doctoral degree, he has published research that any Stanford professor would be proud of. During his career, Brinson championed several important insights that are seen as conventional wisdom today but at the time were quite revolutionary. Perhaps his most influential work was a 1986 article in the Financial Analysts Journal  explaining that asset allocation is the predominant influence on portfolio return variability.

Today, Brinson works chiefly with the Brinson Foundation, which he founded to support charitable causes that work to encourage personal initiative, advance individual freedoms and liberties, and positively contribute to society in the areas of education and scientific research. As of 2013, the foundation distributed over $41 million via more than 1,200 grants to nonprofit organizations.  Brinson has also supported SU by establishing an endowed chair in finance, the Dr. Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance, which recognizes a retired faculty member who was influential in Brinson's development as a student.

These are two inspirational roll-models for our students.  Both came from humble backgrounds and were the first to earn a college degree in their families.  Both went on to have major impact on their professions, and both have undertaken major philanthropic activity to support their communities.  We are proud to have them recognized by AACSB as Influential Leaders!


Ben Bernanke Visits Campus

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on October 16, 2015 at 12:10 PM PDT

Ben Bernanke, former Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, spoke on the Seattle University campus on October 15 th .  The event was sponsored by Town Hall and was part of Bernanke's tour promoting his new book, The Courage to Act .  He was interviewed by former Washington Governor Gary Locke.  The book is about how Bernanke led the Fed through the Great Recession.

By the way, this is not the first time we have had a monetary policy maker on campus.  Previous visitors include Mark Olsen, when he was on the Federal Reserve Board, and John Williams, current President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Bernanke comes off as unpretentious, unflappable, and unassuming.  He seems like a guy who would be easy to get along with and is a baseball nut.  Most of what he said in the interview is probably in the book (I have a copy but have not read it yet), but there are probably a few things in the 75 minute interview that are not.



 Locke asked some of the predictable questions.  Why bail out Bear Sterns but not Lehman Brothers?  Answer - Bear Stearns was not a bail out, it was an arranged acquisition and they could get no one to buy Lehman (it was too far gone) and they had no other strategies to deploy.  It was not a case of wanting Lehman to fail to teach the market a lesson.  It was a case of not being able to do anything about it.  Now that we have Dodd-Frank, there are other ways to handle this scenario that will lead to a better outcome.

Why assist Wachovia but not our local institution, Wamu?  Again, not the same situation, and in the case of Wamu, the FDIC and Chair Sheila Baird were focused on minimizing losses to the FDIC trust fund.  That is a different objective then stabilizing the economy.  Bernanke also admitted that JP Morgan got a sweet deal in the Wamu acquisition.

What about AIG - why bail them out?  Aren't they just an insurance company?  At that time, the Fed was concerned about the connections that AIG had with so many other firms.  A collapse of AIG would cause contagion across the system was what the Fed feared.  In this case, the government was able to lend funds to AIG to buy time for it to sort itself out.  The strategy worked and AIG is a going entity and has repaid its borrowings.

Bernanke also explained that the heart of the financial crisis was not sub-prime lending.  There was not enough sub-prime lending to take down the system.  The real problem was how the problems of sub-prime lending triggered investor panic.  Many financial institutions, including banks and investment banks, had become dependent on short term, uninsured borrowings.  Those funds abruptly dried up as lenders panic.  When liquidity disappeared, that threatened the many financial institutions that had grown dependent on that funding.  He claimed the Fed understood the possibility of a collapse of the sub-prime market, but did not see the contagion effect.

The former Fed Chair also argued that too much of the burden of economic recovery was placed on monetary policy, as very little was done on the fiscal policy side.  Congress could not come to an agreement on the appropriate use of fiscal policy tools, as right wing politicians balked at their use.  When the Fed did everything it could to drop interest rates, pushing short term rates essentially to zero, it was still not enough.   Thus Quantitative Easing became necessary, with versions 1, 2, and 3.

When asked why the resulting increase in bank reserves was not causing inflation, Bernanke explained that the banks are not using the reserves to increase the money supply, thus inflation is not rising.  Instead, the Fed is sterilizing the reserves by paying interest to the banks.  In essence, the banks are using the reserves as an earning asset rather than using them to make loans, which would normally result in an increase in the money supply.  This seems to be a little understood point by the media, most elected officials, and the general population.  Certainly any Presidential candidate who talks about imminent inflation is disclosing their ignorance and giving insight on their fitness for office!  If more of these folks would have taken a macroeconomics course, it would be easier for them to understand! :}

Bernanke also noted that the huge increase in the Fed balance sheet resulting from Quantitative Easing is not as scary as it looks.  He suggested the Fed's strategy would be to hold these securities until maturity, at which time they would leave the Fed's balance sheet (and Open Market operations would be used to offset any undesired change in bank reserves).  You want to know when the Fed's balance sheet will shrink - find out the maturity of those QE holdings!

While telling the QE3 story, he explained that as a known baseball nut he was invited to a Washington Nationals practice, and the manager introduced him to star outfielder Jason Wirth.  Initially, Wirth seemed unimpressed, but when the manager emphasized his role as chair of the Fed, Wirth surprisingly responded, "What's with QE3, anyway?"  I'll bet that story is in the book!

In the Q&A with the audience, Bernanke was asked if the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act contributed to the Great Recession.  He replied that it did not and he did not think there was a need to reinstate a separation of commercial and investment banking.  For one thing, he said, if you look at all the institutions that experienced the greatest problems - Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia, Wamu, Countrywide, etc… -- none of them were mixing commercial and investment banking.  Only Citibank could be said to have been doing both.  Moreover, some of the new rules in Dodd-Frank discourage the mixing of the two activities.

When asked if he could do it over again, what would be different, he expressed regret at not doing a better job of communicating with the public around why they needed to take certain actions, such as assisting large financial institutions but not assisting struggling Main Street businesses.  They tried, but just did not succeed.

When asked how the Fed should respond to financial bubbles, whether that is housing prices or tech stocks, he implied that the Fed should not be trying to pop bubbles.  Instead, it should forecast the worst possible outcome of the bubble and be prepared to address that situation.  A bubble is not likely to have large system wide effects because the impact will be concentrated on relatively few affluent investors and a particular sector of the economy.  It is a bit different with home prices, because there are so many home owners, but if a drop in home prices does not trigger investor panic, the down swing is likely to be manageable.

When asked what he was most concerned about in our economy, he said he was actually quite optimistic about our economy.  That said, his biggest concern was the growing inequality in income and wealth.  He noted it was long term trend that began in the 1970's and it was not a problem that could be turned on a dime.  It would take a number of years to fix, with improved education and changes to our tax and welfare system being the most obvious tools.

When asked if the large amount of debt held by China was a problem, he responded with a firm no.  That China is willing to hold our debt is a good sign, and they are doing it in order to manage the value of their currency.  He could have added it does not give them any foreign policy leverage over the US, in fact it is probably just the opposite.  Remember the old adage, "When you owe the bank a little, the bank owns you.  When you owe the bank a lot, you own the bank!"

He was also asked if US households were once again accumulating too much debt?  He said he did not and that households and business for the most part were being quite cautious.

Finally, he was asked about attempts to increase Congressional oversight over the Fed, such as the new audit that is being proposed.  He said the Fed already has plenty of audits.  The only thing this legislation wants to do that is new is to review monetary policy decisions, and that is just elected officials inserting themselves into monetary policy.  He noted, if you like the way the Congress has handled fiscal policy, then you should get them involved in monetary policy.  Not an inviting prospect for this audience.

I am a great admirer of Ben Bernanke.  Even with the benefit of hindsight, I think he did a masterful job as Chair of the Fed in navigating the Great Recession.  I don't like that firms like Goldman Sachs did not take a haircut with their AIG holdings, but maybe that was impossible to pull off.  And he continues to have the right take on issues.  Whether it is debt held by China, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, keeping Congress out of monetary policy, financial bubbles, or the growing inequality of income and wealth as our greatest challenge, I think he is on target.  It was great to have him on our campus!


New Eastside Campus is Open!

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on September 23, 2015 at 11:09 AM PDT

Our new Eastside Campus location is now open!  We have moved from Bellefield Office Park to the Bellevue downtown area, just a few blocks from the Bellevue Transit Center along I-405.  The new space has been completely renovated to meet student needs and to fit the way our faculty members teach these days.  The new address is 200 112th Avenue NE, Bellevue and we had our official opening today.

It is the first day of classes for the Fall, 2015 quarter, and the first class at the new Eastside campus will take place this evening!  We are really looking forward to life in the new facility.

We had a formal ceremony this morning to mark the occasion, with Fr. Sundborg and Provost Crawford offering remarks.  Fr. Sundborg did the formal ribbon cutting, along with our Eastside Coordinator, Susan Early.


We would like to thank SU Facilities for a great design and build out, especially Steve De Bruhl, and Meriwether Partners for getting us a great location and lease, especially David Rothrock!

We are starting the fall quarter with the largest undergraduate class we have ever had, and our graduate enrollment is up notably from a year ago!  Congratulations to our staff and faculty members for the successful work they have been doing to increase enrollment!

Here are pictures from the Eastside campus, including some of the signage in the entry way and the four classrooms at the new facility.





Indian Junket

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on August 27, 2015 at 2:08 PM PDT

From August 19-24 I did a quick trip to India to visit the Xavier Labor Relations Institute (XLRI) in Jamshedpur, India.  XLRI is a Jesuit university in India that offers only graduate business programs, both at the master's and doctoral levels.  It has a strong reputation in the country, consistently appearing in the Top Five of business school rankings, but is less well known outside of India.  The purpose of the visit was to assist them with their effort to obtain accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an accreditation held by 750 business schools around the world, including the Albers School.

XLRI got its start in the 1940's when Tata Steel asked the Jesuits to provide training to its managers on improved labor relations.  Tata was a company ahead of its time in terms of how it viewed the role of business in society and how workers should be treated as a precious resource.  The early leaders of XLRI were Jesuits from the US, but over time Jesuits who are Indians have gradually taken over the reins.  A few of those early Jesuits, now in their 90's, still live on the XLRI campus and I was able to meet them!

Jamshedpur is literally a Tata company town known for its steel mills.  It is also a town that is hard to get to, as it does not have commercial airline service.  To get there, I had to fly to Delhi and take a flight from Delhi to the city of Ranchi.  Then you take a daunting car ride from Ranchi to Jamshedpur.  Most of the way it is a two lane highway with your driver constantly angling to pass the next car or truck and duck in just in time before oncoming traffic.   The drive is an important part of the Indian experience and hard to fully describe.  It's best to sit in the back seat and stare out at the countryside and not watch the road!

Most of the distance from Ranchi to Jamshedpur shows evidence of building a four lane highway between the two towns, but it is a work in progress and no segment has actually been completed.  The locals say the expanded highway has been under construction for four years and because of corruption progress has been slow.  At the same time, there were a few segments of the journey when we drove on private toll roads.  These roads were well maintained and not very crowded, and show that India is more than capable of taking on its infrastructure problem, but there just does not happen to be a toll road for the drive between Ranchi and Jamshedpur! :}

June 23rd was a Sunday, so I attended the 8:30 AM mass at the campus chapel.  I had been told earlier that almost all the XLRI students and staff are Hindus, so the fact that there were only about 75 in attendance was not surprising.  But about half way through the mass, I realized that the last time I was at a mass in India, Mother Theresa was there!  This happened in 1997 when I was a faculty member at Creighton University and helping to lead a study tour to India.  Back then, there were not a lot of Americans going to Calcutta, but those that did talked about attending the early morning mass at Mother Theresa's mission, and sure enough, when we did, she was there and we were fortunate enough to visit with her afterwards!  Ironically, the priest saying the XLRI mass referenced Mother Theresa's early morning mass attendance, noting that when asked about it, she replied that if she did not check in with the Lord every day then her work would "just be social work."

While it was the monsoon season in India, most of the time the sun was out and they reported it had been a weak monsoon year.  Naturally, it was much more hot and humid in Jamshedpur than in Seattle, but one seems to spend enough time in air conditioned buildings and cars that it does not make much difference.  The only time it rained was on the drive back to Ranchi as my trip was coming to a close, and that was intermittent and caused no problems with the driving.

The flight from Ranchi to Delhi proved to be interesting.  As we approached Delhi, the pilot announced the presence of thunderstorms and we would have to do 15-20 minutes of circling until the storms cleared.  The air was very rough and we did a lot of bouncing around, and after an hour we were still circling, but suddenly we were making an approach and all of the sudden we had landed.  Then the pilot announced that all the other planes that had been circling ran out of fuel and had to be diverted to other locations, and if we had missed our approach, we would have had to do the same.  That would not have been good, because then I would have missed my flight to Frankfurt!

On the flight from Ranchi, I met Sakshi Singh Rawat, the wife of M.S. Dhoni, the iconic cricket player and current India national team captain.  Prior to my trip, I did not know anything about Mr. Dhoni, but while at XLRI they proudly talked about him since he had grown up in Ranchi.  According to the London School of Marketing, he is Number Nine among the world's most marketable sports stars, ahead of Ronaldo and Kobe Bryant, for example.  Despite the global celebrity status, they still choose to live in Ranchi rather than Delhi or Mumbai or any other large city.  (Ranchi is not a big city by India standards, with a population of less than one million).  By the way, although she is a seasoned traveler, Mrs. Dhoni thought our bumpy ride was the worst she had ever experienced!

Once in Delhi, I needed to transfer from the domestic terminal to the international terminal, which is normally a ten minute taxi ride.  Unfortunately, because of the huge storm and resulting flooding, traffic was a disaster, and it took over an hour to make the transfer.  Luckily, there was plenty of cushion built into the schedule and I had no trouble making my 2:30 AM flight to Frankfurt and back to Seattle!

Taiwanese MBA Students Visit

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on August 27, 2015 at 1:08 PM PDT

On August 26 th , I met with a group of MBA students from Yuntech University in Taiwan.  The students were on campus as part of a two week study tour they are participating in that is focused on Seattle.  The group is staying is staying in our dorms, eating in our cafeteria, and meeting in our classrooms while they are in town.  An important part of their trip is visiting Seattle based companies such as Starbucks, Costco Wholesale, Expeditors International, Boeing, PACCAR, and Microsoft.  I provided them some information about Seattle University as well as about the economy in our region.

I asked them what their observations were about their visit so far, after having been here for three days. One observation was that people are very nice, stopping for them at corners and crosswalks.  I noted that this was very unique to Seattle and in the rest of the country drivers only stop at stop signs and stop lights.  You risk your life if you go to another part of the US and expect drivers to stop for you.  They will not unless the sign says to!

They also observed that home construction was very different.  In their country, homes are built with brick construction, but they had not seen this here.  I indicated that I actually lived in a brick home, but we no longer use bricks much because they do not do well in earthquakes and we are all waiting for the next earthquake!

A student said they had seen very few African Americans thus far in their visit, and had expected that they would see more.  I replied that the African American population is only 7% of the Seattle population, but there are predominantly black neighborhoods just South of campus and also East of campus.  I explained that 20 years ago the surrounding community was much more African American, but through a process of gentrification many families have been pushed out to other communities, particularly South toward the airport.

The students were also struck by the size of US college campuses.  At their school, their campus is pretty much one high-rise building, but they had visited the University of Washington that morning and were amazed by the size of the campus and all the green grass.  While smaller, they were also impressed with the size of our campus.  In terms of controlling the cost of higher education, I would bet their campus is more effective in that regard! :}

A disproportionate number of students were wearing Converse Chuck Taylor high tops, so I took the opportunity to provide them some history, namely when I was growing up, one had four options when it came to buying athletic shoes - Chuck Taylor white high tops, Chuck Taylor white low tops, Chuck Taylor black high tops, and Chuck Taylor black low tops - and that was it!  Compare that to the selection of brands and styles available today for athletic footwear!  (There were also Keds, but Keds were not cool, so they were not really an option.)

Finally, the students wanted to know how our students went about finding jobs after graduation.  Beyond doing well in their coursework, I mentioned the importance of internships and participating in extra-curricular activities, since that made one a more rounded person.  Communication skills and the ability to work with others are also important things employers look for. Given the nodding of heads, it seems it works the same way in Taiwan!

After our meeting, the students went to Safeco Field to see the Mariners play the Oakland A's, with King Felix on the mound, and fortunately the Mariners treated them to an 8-2 victory!

New Eastside Campus Coming Soon!

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on August 6, 2015 at 1:08 PM PDT

We are moving our Eastside campus and very excited about our new location!  The build out of the new Eastside Campus location is moving along very nicely, and we are projected to be moved out of Bellefield Office Park and into 200 112th Avenue NE  by  August 31st .  However, due to the need for testing airflow, lighting, etc… we don't expect to have   full occupancy until September 14th .  That will be in time for fall quarter classes!  The 112 th  Avenue location is just south of the NE Fourth Street I-405 overpass and south-bound on-ramp.

The new facility will have a layout specifically designed to meet our program needs, as opposed to the Bellefield facility that was always a poor match for us as a facility.  The new Eastside campus also is conveniently located near the Bellevue Transit Center, so it will be much easier for students and staff to use public transportation to travel to (including the Eastside Light Rail once it is in place).

Below are a few pictures of the new location - the SU signage facing north toward the I-405 NE 4th Street overpass and on-ramp, one of the 50 parking spots assigned to SU, and an interior classroom shot showing that we are still in the remodeling phase.  All these were taken on August 6th during a walk-through tour.

One thing is certain - this will be a huge improvement over the Bellefield location!  This is very exciting news for Albers and SU!

Seattle U sign:

Seattle University sign on new Eastside campus


 One of SU's parking spots:

Parking Spot at Eastside campus


 Classroom in progress:

Future classroom at the new Eastside campus

2015 IAJBS World Forum

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on July 28, 2015 at 5:07 PM PDT

The 21st annual International Association of Jesuit Business Schools (IAJBS) World Forum took place July 19th to 22nd in Montevideo, Uruguay, with Universidad Católica del Uruguay hosting the event.  There were 240 participants representing 49 universities  from 23 different nations .  The theme of the conference was Leadership and Innovation for a Sustainable World, and the agenda included a number of panel discussions and paper presentations.  For example, Marinilka Kimbro, Assistant Professor of Accounting in the Albers School, presented a paper with a Corporate Social Responsibility theme - "Standardized Matching: Collaborators and Commonalities for Global CSR." 

IAJBS convenes this meeting every year, and it is good opportunity to meet and interact with Jesuit business school deans from outside of the US.  Schools from Spain, Latin America, Korea, the Philippines, and India participate in significant numbers.  Every other year, the meeting is held jointly with Colleagues in Jesuit Business Education (CJBE).  This was a year for a joint meeting.  CJBE is more faculty focused than IAJBS, which is more focused on deans and other administrators.

This year I talked to a number of schools who are interested in student exchange agreements, and a few schools are interested in 3+2 programs built around some of our master's degrees.  In 3+2 programs students earn an undergraduate degree and a master's degree in five years rather than the normal six (four years of undergraduate study followed by two years of work on the master's degree).  With affordability becoming a bigger and bigger issue for private higher education, we have to find ways to add more value to what we charge for, and programs like this are one way to do it (we also need to do more of this with our own SU students - and you will be seeing more of it!).

I participated in a panel discussion, serving as a commenter for a presentation by Dr. Stephen Fox, Professor of Organizational Learning and Leadership at Queen Mary University of London.  He was advocating for more "learning by doing," which is definitely the trend in business education.  His views also align with the practices of Ignatian Pedagogy, something close to home to the audience, with its emphasis on Experience and Reflection.

During the business meeting of IAJBS, it was announced that the next meeting will take place outside Nairobi, Kenya in July, 2016.  The theme will be emerging economic trends in Africa, with an important part of the meeting devoted to discussion of the Jesuit initiatives in Africa around establishing business programs on the continent.  There are nine different initiatives in play, including one along the Rwanda-Burundi boarder that we have discussed contributing to.  The 2017 meeting will take place at the University of Namur in Belgium, which is the last remaining Jesuit university in Europe outside of Spain.  Namur is heading up the Rwanda-Burundi initiative.

Several IAJBS representatives were at the recent Jesuit university presidents meeting in Australia.  They reported with great pride that IAJBS was called out as the most effective Jesuit affinity group operating on a global basis.  While we tend to think of ourselves as a shoe-string operation, and focus on all the things we could do but do not do, it is nice to get a more positive perspective from others!

I've served on the IAJBS Board of Directors since 2011, and at the meeting was appointed Vice-president and President-elect for 2015-16, with the expectation that I serve as President in 2016-17.  No doubt they were running out of options to get to my name!  It does mean I need to make plans to go to Kenya in 2016 and Belgium in 2017!  Let's hope IAJBS survives my time in office and makes it to 2018! :}