MBA Newsletter Spring/Summer 2016

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Milgard School of Business MBA Newsletter Spring/Summer 2016 Vol VI(III)

In this issue:

Updates from the MBA Director, Dr. Eugene Sivadas
Meet the MBA Graduates
MBA Alumni Profile: Wes Bailey
MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Shahrokh Saudagaran
Spring Quarter Executive Speaker Series: Jens Molbak
Milgard MBA Updates

MBA Updates:  

I am pleased to report that we have revised our MBA program. The current program design has been in effect since 2008. The revised program will take effect from Autumn 2016.  The program was revised based on feedback from MBA Alumni, MBA faculty, and after a careful assessment of trends in MBA education. The revised program can be completed in as little as 21 months. We have moved two of our existing core classes-negotiations and organization change into the flexible core (take those or take appropriate electives) as part of the redesign.

I am pleased to present our soon to be graduating MBA’s in this issue and update you on other happenings in the program. I am pleased to report that the MBA Association is going strong, we look forward to seeing you at their event on June 3rd.  On behalf of the MBA program I wish you a wonderful summer.



Meet the MBA Graduates

The Milgard MBA program is excited to welcome 27 new alumni to our community! You may download a pdf version of the profiles here.


Alumni Profile, Wes Bailey, MBA '13: 

Wes Bailey earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2004 and then served as an officer in the Army until 2009. Shortly after completing his BS degree he decided he would like to further his education by studying business, while stationed at Fort Bliss there were few business school opportunities. Despite this, his interest in earning an MBA grew so prior to completing his military service, Wes took the GMAT.  After moving to Washington, he spent the next few years researching business programs and found UW Tacoma. Wes graduated from the Milgard School of Business MBA in 2013. He was attracted to this program because of the location, the reputation of the University of Washington, and the flexibility in the course offerings.

Wes currently works for the Metropolitan Development Council, a non-profit organization, as a program manager of adult education and employment services. This particular program provides low income adults funding for General Educational Development (GED) testing, college navigation, and employment services.  Since graduating, Wes is proud that he has become much more involved in the local community.  Having come from New York City, he wasn’t knowledgeable about Pierce County.  Becoming more integrated in the local community was a significant accomplishment for him.

He believes that there is a need for the types of skills that students develop in business programs within the social services environment.  He recognizes the importance of an analytical prospective within this sector to evaluate social service programs and their effectiveness.  He looks forward to utilizing his business education in the non-profit field.  Wes stated that it is important to have an evidence based management mindset in order to create data driven results and to make knowledgeable decisions that improve business processes.

Wes’ favorite class in the MBA program was Integrated Systems taught by Dr. Jill Purdy.  This particular course introduced the concept of systems thinking.  He states that when you are trying to analyze an issue within a business you can become so focused on that particular issue that you fail to recognize all of the factors that caused the issue in the first place.   He feels that this “tunnel vision” blinds mangers and that they must embrace the fact that business outcomes, good and bad, do not occur in a vacuum.

Wes advises anyone interested in a business degree to attend the UW Tacoma business program “because the world is becoming more data driven, interconnected, and competitive” and that “the MBA program will give you the skills necessary to compete.”  Wes added that the alumni and faculty at UW Tacoma are amazing.  He suggests that students cultivate their connections here because they never know what opportunities may arise out of those professional relationships.


MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Shahrokh Saudagaran, PhD

1.)    Please tell me about your educational background. Where did you receive your BA, and PhD?
I earned my Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Bombay in India, my MBA from the Iran Center for Management Studies in Tehran, Iran and my PhD from the University of Washington Seattle.

2.)    Please tell me about your employment background. Did you always know you wanted to be a professor? How did you get into the field of teaching?
I started my career as an auditor and management consultant with, what is now, Ernst & Young.  Following that, I worked as Financial Controller for a Dutch multinational.  I had taught part-time as a lecturer in a business school and that experience was instrumental in my decision to pursue a career in higher education.

3.)    What did you do for your career before you worked at UW Tacoma?
After earning my PhD in International Accounting at the UW, I was on the business school faculty at Santa Clara University for 14 years.  During my time there, I introduced International Accounting courses in the MBA and undergraduate programs.  My research focused on the role of differences in financial reporting requirements on global capital flows.  In 2000, I moved to Oklahoma State University as Head of the School of Accounting.  They have a huge accounting program and offer Bachelors, Masters and PHD programs in accounting.    After serving there for 4 years I joined the Milgard School of Business as the founding dean in 2004.

4.)    Why did you choose to work for UW Tacoma? Why were you attracted to this particular campus?
When I attended the UW, the Tacoma campus had not yet been launched so I did not know much about this campus.  However, I had heard about it from colleagues at UW Seattle who encouraged me to consider applying for the dean’s position.  I was very impressed by the generosity and vision of the Milgard family in endowing such a young business school.  It was an exciting opportunity to help build an outstanding business school.   When I came for my campus interview, I was stunned by the renaissance in downtown Tacoma spurred largely by the campus.  It was very different from the downtown Tacoma that I had seen in the 1980s.  My wife and I are both UW graduates so we were pleased to return to the UW and the Pacific Northwest.

5.)    What is your teaching philosophy? Or, how is your teaching style unique from others in your field?
I believe that faculty can play a critical role in helping students discover their passion and obtain the tools to pursue their professional goals.  In the field of International Accounting, it became clear to me from my early days at Santa Clara University that in the business world there are far more users of financial information than preparers.  Thus contrary to the textbooks at the time which took a preparer orientation to International Accounting, I believed that the user perspective was the way to approach this subject.  When I was approached by a publisher in 1998 to write a book on International Accounting that was the approach that I took.  The book is currently in its fourth edition and is used in universities in many countries.  It has also been translated into Japanese.

6.)    What do you feel are your greatest strengths as an instructor? 
I believe that it is important to bring scholarly research into the classroom, particularly in graduate courses.  It fosters critical thinking and helps make informed decisions in our professional and personal lives.

7.)    What do you feel is the largest challenge when it comes to your field of work?
Over the past two decades the price of higher education has risen dramatically.  This has reduced access and increased the financial burden on students and their families.  There is plenty of evidence that education is one of the best investments that a society can make in its citizenry.

8.)    Do you have any advice for those seeking to enter the Master’s program?
Since a Master’s program will typically be the terminal degree for the vast majority of folks, it is important that students have a good sense of where their passion lies and select their graduate academic program accordingly.  Once in the program, try to get as much out of it as possible since you may not have a similar opportunity again in life.  You will get as much out of a program as you put in it.

9.)    Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to work out, go on walks with my wife, and enjoy different cuisines.  With both our daughters having left the nest, we like to see them as often as we can.

10.)    Is there anything else you would like to add to our interview? 
I have typically taught the International Accounting course in the MBA program every other year and am looking forward to teaching it this summer.


Spring Quarter Executive Speaker Series: Jens Molbak, MBA

For the spring quarter MBA Executive Speakers Series the Milgard School of Business MBA program hosted Jens Molbak, cofounder of Coinstar. Jens earned a BA degree from Yale and an MBA from Stanford. Growing up the son of civic minded immigrants he was taught the value of public service and giving back to community. In his early years as a financial analyst with Morgan Stanley he felt a lack of balance in his life, as he gathered career advice from more seasoned professionals he found a common path was working in the private sector for many years earning a comfortable salary, then devoting some time and resources working with non-profits and eventually a run for office as service to the public sector. Jens began to wonder why this had to be a linear path and began to wonder how he could find ways for all three areas to interface and simultaneously benefit.

The stories from the entrepreneurs presenting in his MBA classes at Stanford and the large jar of coins that followed him through multiple cross-country moves got him thinking about coins and all the people who like him had jars of coins sitting on their dressers effectively removing a large sum of currency from the economy. His curiosity lead to research and he eventually became the cofounder of Coinstar. Coinstar was able to accomplish his dream of finding something where the private sector, social sector, and public sector could all benefit. Consumers benefitted from being able to easily use those coins that had been long forgotten on jars on their dressers; non-profits benefitted because the Coinstar machines offered an easy way to donate; and the public sector benefitted by bringing coins back into circulation. To date Coinstar has saved the government an estimated $2 billion dollars through coin recycling.

Jens sold Coinstar 16 years ago and has recently began a new venture Win Win.  Once again he is passionate about finding ways for the private, social and public sectors to interface and benefit one another. “WinWin is reviewing public sector agencies and departments, seeking entrepreneurial opportunities for innovation and collaboration.” Jens described Propel a company that WinWin has recently funded as an example. Propel has an app that integrates with the EBT snap program which enables users to automatically determine the balance on their card. This app uses geotechnology to locate stores in the area accepting EBT as well as locating other social services (DSHS, Worksource); the private sector benefits by learning where EBT users are shopping and offers opportunities to direct market through the app which giving the user greater purchasing power; and the ability to link a user with services to help them gain resources for taking next steps—education, finding stable employment, etc. are the steps towards getting out of the food stamp system.

Outside of his work with Win Win Jens is also a member of multiple boards. His advice to students and budding entrepreneurs is to approach problems from a perspective of “we all in this together” and to explore ideas from a multi-sector approach to reap the greatest advantage for all.


Milgard MBA Updates: School, Students, and Alumni 

There is still time to register for the 3rd Annual MBA Association Spring Social & Networking Event. This event brings together students, alumni and this year members of Tacoma’s Economic Development Board.

In July the Milgard School of Business welcomes Dr. Howard Smith as Dean.

A group of MBAs: Victoria Atwood, Tejinder Aulakh, Marlene Reyes, and Angela Ward in Dr. Merchant’s marketing course did a project where they proposed insightful suggestions to T-Mobile’s customer loyalty program. Dr. Merchant encouraged them to share their findings with the CMO of T-Mobile and the group was invited to a 30 minute with the CMO. The meeting went well and has opened doors to future collaborations.

Don Clark, Jr. MBA ’14 is now President & CEO of Sound Credit Union.

Joel Gallion MBA ’14 is now President of Bellevue Healthcare.