MBA Newsletter Winter 2016

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Milgard School of Business MBA Newsletter Winter 2016 Vol VI(II)

In this issue:

Updates from the MBA Director, Dr. Eugene Sivadas
MBA Alumni Profile: Keegan Hall
MBA Student Profile: Nicholas Postiglione
MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Eliza X. Zhang
Winter Quarter Executive Speaker Series: Nick Malden
MBA Alumni Advisory Council

MBA Updates:  

We hope this finds you in great spirits. I am happy to note that our expanded career management workshops for MBA's and Alumni was very well received by those who attended the events. The topics covered by executive coach Marcy Porus-Gottlieb included modules on developing a personal brand, interviewing skills, building an enhanced linked in profile, and networking skills and included hands on sessions on these topics. I am also happy to note that we have created an alumni advisory board for the program.  We look forward to seeing you at the MBAA and at our executive speaker series events in the coming quarter. Please stay in touch.




Alumni Profile: Keegan Hall, MBA 2010

Keegan Hall graduated from the University of Washington in 2003 with a Bachelors’ of Visual Art degree. He then worked for the Seattle SuperSonics on their marketing and sales team for five years. In 2008 he decided to enroll at UWT to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Being a business student, Keegan was naturally intrigued with entrepreneurship. During his final year in the MBA program he and a classmate from the UW Tacoma campus teamed up with two Seattle campus students to enter into the Business Plan Completion at the Foster School of Business. Their plan focused on the health and wellness industry and won third place in the competition. More importantly, once finished with graduate school, Keegan and his partners launched their plan by raising $350,000 capitol. The thriving business ultimately caught the eye of an investor who purchased the intellectual properties. 

Keegan, being a true entrepreneur, began to seek a new plan right away. He joined the founders of a startup called Pirq. Pirq is a platform small business owners can use for digital loyalty programs. Four years after launch, Pirq was acquired by iPayment a billion dollar payment processing business based out of Los Angeles. Keegan states that the transition with iPayment has been seamless and they have allowed his team to continue to thrive in their innovation. Today Keegan is the Director of Marketing for the parent company of Pirq. Keegan states that the synergy between Pirq and iPayment is great.  He loves working with his team and finds his job very enjoyable.

Spending years focusing on business, Keegan had placed his art on the back-burner. It was his mother’s passing about a year ago that inspired him to draw again. Keegan spends a lot of his spare time focusing on super-realism portraiture. Last March he shared a piece online that he did of Michael Jordan and was humbled by positive reactions.  A friend’s suggestion lead Keegan to draw a portrait of Kam Chancellor who then shared Keegan’s art with his followers on Twitter and Instagram. This was a turning point for Keegan's art. He has since been recognized by other athletes such as Felix Hernandez, Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners and the Seattle Storm. Furthermore, witnessing his art go “viral” inspired him do something more with it.

Keegan felt a close connection with The Richard Sherman Family Foundation’s mission and decided to pitch a fundraising concept to Richard called #Keegan200. And thus, the charity project was born.  Keegan produced two hundred numbered prints of his artwork which he and Richard signed for the project. The prints all sold within hours raising a total of $40,000 for the cause. Furthermore, once the local media caught wind of the project it exploded. Keegan has since been approached by several famous athletes who he plans to work with in the near future. Keegan’s most recent collaboration will be with Seattle Sonics legend Gary Payton.

Keegan states that one of the most important things he gained from his education at the Milgard School was knowledge about the process of business implications and selling. He states that his artistic background allowed him to create compelling marketing content from start to finish including copy, design and more. He also suggests that any students take advantage of “the student card” whenever they can. He said that many of his networking connections were initiated simply by stating that he was a student working for a certain project or cause. 


MBA Student Profile: Nicholas Postiglione, MBA candidate summer 2016

Nick Postiglione is currently a student of the MBA program at the University of Washington Tacoma campus. He will be graduating in the summer of 2016. Nick received his undergraduate education from Drexel University, Philadelphia. At that time he focused on Criminal Justice and planned to continue his education in law school. However, his involvement in the Army ROTC at the university surprisingly steered him in a different direction. In Nick’s senior year he decided an MBA would be a nice supplement to his education and would align well with his interest in Healthcare Administration.

Nick was commissioned into the United States Army Medical Service Core and, four days upon graduation, he was stationed in the Pacific Northwest. It was at this time that Nick confirmed that a career in Health Care Administration was the right fit for himself. Nick said he, "almost fell into it by accident". Moreover, he feels strongly connected to the mission of helping others and of the treatment of the health of the public.

Currently Nick works at UW Medicine as an executive assistant. He is the, “gate keeper” for the Chief Advancement Officer, Vice President for Medical Affairs. As an assistant to the Associate Vice President of Development, Nick manages four employees. He is responsible for management of the day to day and strategic operations for the office.

Nick was drawn to the Milgard School of Business because of its convenient location and class hours. His career in the United States Army entitled him to tuition coverage which was a huge plus. Most importantly the convenience of schedule for the MBA program made it possible for him to tend to his employment obligations.

For those seeking to join the program, Nick suggests to have fun with it. He feels the group work and the diversity of the program has been enjoyable. Nick has had a positive experience with such a small program, as it has allowed him to get to know his cohorts and professors closely. He feels that everyone is very approachable and that happy hours can be a lot of fun also. Most of all, Nick finds a large value in meeting people from different industries and inquiring about how they work in their fields. Nick states, “You will meet many people who will be important in your career. It is important to make those connections for your future.”


MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Eliza X. Zhang, PhD

Eliza X. Zhang achieved her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Xi’an Jiaotong University, China. She continued her education in the United States at the University of Missouri - Columbia (Mizzou) where she earned her doctorate. Professor Zhang states that the faculty at Mizzou truly want students to succeed. She feels this is where she was influenced to push herself and others to reach their full potential.

Before pursuing her doctorate, Professor Zhang had an auditing internship at Beijing Zhongxi Accounting Firm, during which she and her team audited two top ten state-owned steel firms in China. She also had a financial accounting internship at China Merchants Securities, one of the top ten security firms in China. She later worked for Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) after finishing her master’s degree. In fact, it was the dean of the business school at MUST who inspired her to pursue her PhD.

Professor Zhang was interested in a career at the University of Washington Tacoma because of the abundance of resources available and the supportive working environment to evolve her career as a professor. Having been an international student herself, she also appreciates the diversity of the students and faculty at the Tacoma campus. Additionally, the location of the campus is convenient for her travel obligations, as she attends several conferences throughout the year.

Professor Zhang’s teaching philosophy is to initiate drive within her students. She feels it is important to push, as well as encourage students in the learning process. Professor Zhang states that her PhD trained her to be independent and to think critically, something she aspires to instill within her students. She believes this way of teaching helps students develop in their education. Although she may come off as tenacious, she feels pushing her students to look beyond what they observe will enable them to reach their full potential.

Her advice for those interested in the master’s program is to look at their goals backwards. She states, “First think about what you want to achieve in five to ten years. Be long-term oriented and not focused too much on the short-term. Then decide what program you are interested in and find a mentor to help you.”


Winter Quarter Executive Speaker Series: Nick Malden, “Thoughts on Managing One’s Career”

On March 10th, the MBA Executive Speaker Series hosted Tacoma native, Nick Malden as he shared, “Thoughts on Managing One’s Career.” Nick’s diverse career included work in large and small corporations both internationally and in the United States. Currently, Nick is a board member of the Tacoma Angel Network and a volunteer counselor with SCORE[10].  

Nick graduated from Grinnell College with Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and went on to earn his MBA from Emory University in General Management. He began his career in public accounting as an auditor with Arthur Andersen and Company in their Chicago office; a location he strategically selected over both Seattle and Atlanta because it was the largest office and offered the most diverse client base from which to gain exposure to various business environments. Nick was recruited from public accounting to join Dart & Kraft as an internal auditor based in Brussels from where he traveled the world visiting operating units which included Tupperware, Kraft Foods, Hobart, Precor and Duracell. He eventually transitioned to Duracell where he progressed through finance roles ranging from corporate strategy and planning to financial leadership jobs in several countries.

Nick eventually became VP of Finance for Duracell Europe and then CFO of the Duracell Batteries North Atlantic Group; a $3bn division of The Gillette Company. However, realizing his next move would be to Boston and with no guarantee he’d ever become CFO of the entire Gillette Company, he opted to accept a CFO position with a much smaller publicly traded Tucson-based medical device company. The switch was risky. Ventana Medical Systems had 300 employees and a $300M market cap with a reported net loss of $26M on sales of $69M when Nick joined, but over the next seven years he was part of a team that grew that market cap to $3.2bn including recognition as one of Business Week and Fortune magazine’s 100 fastest growing small companies in America three years in a row.   

Nick’s advice is to have a strategic plan for your career that aligns with your values. Money was a motivating factor for Nick and he was willing to make geographic and lifestyle sacrifices to maximize his earnings, but he acknowledged not everyone shares the same motivations. What is important is to understand what your motivations are, get some alignment with your family around a plan and then relentlessly pursue it. Within that you should set some objective measures to gauge progress and course correct when necessary. That correction might mean adding skills, changing companies, or simply doing more with what you have over the course of your career. Receiving regular performance feedback at your job is important and benchmarking your progress and value against the market through search firms or 3rd party research helps you to keep pace. 


Milgard MBA Alumni Advisory Council

The MBA program and Interim Dean Jill Purdy are pleased to announce that we have formed an advisory board to provide feedback on matters of curriculum, recruiting and admissions, career planning and related activities. In selecting alumni the school aimed to achieve representation from various sectors of the local business community who were familiar with the current curriculum of the Milgard MBA.

Wesley Bailey,2013
Holly Beimler,2011
Preston Crane, 2012
Justin Fisher, 2007
Chris Inverso,2011
Anne Kerker,2010
Bryce Kerker,2010
Charles Kraus,2013
Geoff Lawrence,2007
Lita Monaghan,2012
David Nishimura,2008
Anne Reedy, 2010
David Sloan, 2011
Adam Small,2010
Rick Triggs, 2014
Paul Werner,2009

Thank you to Kady Whittaker, BABA Milgard Scholar and MBA Intern for interviewing the articles in this issue.