MBA Winter 2015 Newsletter

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Milgard School of Business MBA Newsletter Winter 2015 Vol V(II)

In this issue:


Message from the MBA Director

Dear Milgard MBA Family,

I hope you all enjoyed the mild Winter. We were happy to see some of you at our Winter TGIF and at the executive speaker series event. We hope you will be able to make it to these events in the future. The MBA program is coming along nicely.  We welcomed nine students as part of our Gold Cohort, they join 21 students from our Purple Cohort.  At the end of the last quarter, we also graduated our first Gold Cohort. The MBA Association is also rolling out some community service events and we hope that you will join them in such future endeavors.  Please spread the word on the MBA program as we value your recommendations. Wishing you a sunny spring.

Eugene Sivadas

MBA Alumni Profile: John Shepherd, '11

John Shepherd graduated from the Milgard MBA program in 2011. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College in California and a Master’s in Public Administration from Seattle University in 2007. When deciding on an MBA program, John felt the small cohort of mid-career colleagues and the opportunity for direct interaction with the professors gave UWT a competitive advantage.  John remarks that even though the classes were tough, it was the more competitive atmosphere within his cohort of classmates that truly challenged him to work harder.

John served in the Marine Corps from 1999-2003 as an infantryman in a mechanized reconnaissance unit. During his time in the military John developed management skills: how to motivate people, operational planning, etc. However, there were still some holes in his skill set regarding marketing and finance and the MBA wound up providing the key pieces he was missing. John was recently hired as President of OmniFab and thoroughly enjoys the challenge his job provides as well as being able to witness the creation of a product that will directly impact people’s lives. He believes without his MBA, he would not (and should not) be where he is professionally. Having the skill set from the MBA, John is able to make better management decisions and provide the information and recommendations others rightfully expect from him. For John, the most valuable course in the Milgard MBA program was the Integrated Systems capstone. Learning and experiencing how all the pieces of finance, marketing, operations and accounting tie together created the ability for John to step into his job responsibilities with confidence!

Outside of work and school, John spends the majority of his free time either with his family or participating in solo endurance sports like cycling or trail running. These activities help him develop self-discipline and focus as well as act as a de-stressor for some of life’s demanding times.  The biggest piece of advice John gives to MBA students is to save the books and readings. “Even though they are heavy and probably seem too academic and dry, try to find room in a box or a closet. One day, years later, you might find yourself in the exact context that the article becomes impactful and you will be thankful to have the literature at your fingertips.”


MBA Student Profile: Dolores Stegeman, degree anticipated '16

Dolores Stegeman began the MBA program autumn 2012 then took a year off from studies to fully commit to new professional opportunities presented by her employer. When she returned to the program in the fall of 2014, she felt more secure in her position, and prepared a degree plan to complete in 2016.

Dolores earned a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Saint Martin’s University. She joined Tacoma Power in 1991 as a civil engineer in the Power Management group. Over the years she has held many positions requiring a wide variety of skills ranging from modeling river flows and reservoir levels to representing Tacoma Power in legal cases. In her current role as the Transmission & Distribution Manager, Dolores manages the design, construction, and maintenance functions of the electrical transmission and distribution system with the City of Tacoma and parts of Pierce County.

When deciding to pursue an MBA, Dolores chose the Milgard MBA program because the evening classes provided flexibility and opportunities other programs did not offer in the same capacity. In addition, Dolores has colleagues who graduated from the program and recommended it. Dolores learns something applicable to her work in every class she has taken. Most memorable of these lessons happened in Dr. Merchant’s marketing class, where Dolores and her teammates applied marketing techniques to Dolores’ own future business vision. As a way to earn elective credit, she took advantage of a possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience by participating in a Global Study Tour to China. As a result, Dolores gained a global perspective to current business and management issues, which is easily applicable to her work.

Outside of her professional experiences, Dolores Stegeman loves to sew and says she thinks about fabric constantly. Unfortunately, with her limited amount of spare time, she is restricted to sewing during the holidays and the annual Sew Expo in Puyallup every February. She also enjoys spending time with her family and attending creative festivals with her sisters. She encourages fellow students to learn something relevant from every class and realize that the professional network is a significant benefit of this program. Her advice to new students is, “Carry your share of team projects and keep commitments to your classmates.” 


MBA Student Profile: Blair Bumgarner, degree anticipated '16

Blair Bumgarner earned his Bachelor of Arts Business Administration from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. After graduating from UW, Blair began a career in the software industry and has been in the industry ever since – except when he took a hiatus to travel and work in the non-profit world. Currently, Blair is a Program Manager in the OEM Operations division at Microsoft. He has worked there since 2005 leading projects focused on introducing new products, sales, and marketing initiatives. He is currently concentrated on the Office, Embedded, and Education product lines and was recently named the “Pricing and licensing operational lead for all large scale new product launches in the OEM channel.”

Blair’s interest in learning and desire to develop a skill set in the areas he was not commonly using in his career lead to his interest in earning the MBA. In researching programs he discovered the well-rounded education the MBA provides will enable him to drive positive changes within his organization. Blair chose the respected Milgard MBA program because of the small class sizes and collaborative nature of the program. Even though Blair has only been an MBA student for a short time, he has already integrated the concepts of statistical analysis into his career. Another benefit has been improved time management skills developed in order to keep up with his full-time job and the MBA class load.

In his spare time, Blair enjoys the outdoors: hiking, biking, skiing etc. His biggest accomplishment over this past summer was to riding-Seattle-to-Portland bike ride in one day for the first time! Blair is an avid home-brewer and loves creating and sharing new beers and ciders with his friends and family. Recently, Blair was elected to the board of Seattle Works, an organization dedicated to increasing community involvement in young adults. When asked to give advice to someone considering going to school for an MBA, Blair suggested thinking about the objectives of an MBA program and if those align with your goals. Blair also recommends discussing your interest in earning an MBA with your employer because “many employers are willing to help out financially, and having your organization’s support while working on a part-time MBA can really help with balancing the workload.”


Faculty Research Abstracts


BARBARA GRAY, The Pennsylvania State University
JILL M. PURDY, University of Washington, Tacoma
SHAHZAD (SHAZ) ANSARI, University of Cambridge

ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT REVIEW, 2015, Vol. 40, p. 115-143

How do ideas go from the minds of a few people to become widely accepted understandings in an industry or society?  This paper explains how the process of interactive framing allows people to create shared meanings that can transfer from small groups to businesses or industries to become institutionalized as the “rules of the game.”  Our research indicates that the process is one of negotiation rather than simple transfer; framing is an activity, and the resulting frames are subject to change as they spread and are reinterpreted.  We use interactive framing to explain how longstanding beliefs and norms change, for example, when assumptions about the roles of doctors and nurses shifted to account for the new profession of nurse practitioner, or when producers of alcohol and spirits became champions of responsible drinking.  Interactive frames can also explain contagion or diffusion effects, for example, the adoption of strategic planning as a management imperative in the government and nonprofit sectors despite its origins in competitive market contexts.  Our theoretical model considers the dynamics of a situation to help explain why sometimes one small shift in a frame changes an entire system, while at other times, multiple shifts in multiple frames fail to spark any wider change.  This paper allows us to analyze the processes by which meanings spread and analyze how change occurs rather than simply tracking whether an idea has achieved widespread success or failure.


MBA Faculty Profile-Dr. Shalini Jain

Professor Shalini Jain joined the Milgard School in July 2014 because she wanted to be part of a growing urban university and business school whose vision she could contribute to in a tangible manner.  Importantly, her research and teaching interests were closely aligned with the Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility’s vision of developing successful business leaders who care for their stakeholders, the environment, and their communities.

Her prior work experience involved providing research and consulting services to a variety of non-profit organizations, town, city, county, and New York state governments in the areas of public sector management, human services analysis and social research. She was also the director of a federal program that recruited and matched community service volunteers with social services agencies and launched programs relating to child literacy and rehabilitation of ex-convicts.

Her experience as a consultant helped her glean important lessons about the gaps between strategy formulation and implementation and how organizational culture and conflicting interests often contribute to these gaps.   This fueled her interest to acquire theoretical and methodological skills to understand the institutional design of organizations and factors that impede their effectiveness. She was particularly interested in identifying problems and outlining solutions to the complex issues faced by multilateral and multi-stakeholder organizations.

In 2008, Jain moved from the midwest to pursue her PhD at UW Seattle. While there, she was selected for several prestigious consortia including Syracuse University Qualitative Research Methods (2010), Academy of Management Professional Development Workshop (2011), and Bentley University Environmental, Social and Governance Workshop and Global Business Ethics Symposium (2013). Her research interests follow three parallel tracks: 1) measuring corporate social performance in emerging economy contexts; 2) studying the drivers of corporate self-regulation; and 3) examining consumer attitudes towards CSR.

Currently, Shalini Jain is connected with both, the Academy of Management and the International Association of Business and Society. In her short time in the Milgard School of Business, Dr. Jain has taught a freshman core class on Business and Society, a 400 level elective class on Managing Corporate Responsibility and spring quarter she will teach an Introduction to Business course and the MBA core course Business Ethics and Social Responsibility. She encourages her students to use their diverse backgrounds and work experience to engage in insightful discussions and bring unique perspectives on topics relating to ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability in business. Outside of the classroom, Jain is an patron of the Seattle Symphony, is a world traveler, and enjoys watching tennis.

Winter Quarter Executive Speaker Series: Birger Steen, CEO Parallels, Strategy is a State of Mind

For the winter quarter Executive Speaker Series, Birger Steen, CEO of Parallels spent the evening of February 26th, discussing the role of strategy plays in business and personal lives. Parallels is a privately held technology company known for virtualization: teaching one computer to act and be like another computer. Prior to becoming the CEO of Parallels in 2010, Steen’s professional career included many exciting positions: his career began in the oil trading business, he has been a consultant with McKinsey, spent time in the media industry, and eventually served as a VP at Microsoft.  At Parallels, Steen has the authority to oversee the technological process from A to Z, which is something he has always wanted to do.

Steen began his very insightful talk by admitting that strategy is difficult to point out. Fundamentally, however, you know it when you see it. Steen used a quote from Andy Grove and Robert Bergelman to unearth the truth that successful organizational strategy stems from the middle of the company, where understanding and company insight gets aggregated. Then the strategic ideas flow to the top where the strategy is shaped and formed.

According to Steen, there are three key steps to a good strategy: diagnosis, guiding policy, and a coherent plan of action. In order to successfully diagnose the problem, one must be brutally honest, getting facts from all levels both internally and externally. In addition, executing the plan is difficult to do because it affects people’s pay, position, and passions. Strategy consultants use tools, hard work, and good listening to uncover the hard truths. A consulting service is often expensive because a high price drives commitment from the CEO to listen and heed the advice given.

Motivating people is also an important part of implementing strategy and it encompasses four components: plan, optimism, team, and empathy. Most important is optimism and, according to Steen, “The day you lose your optimism is the day you should retire as an executive”. All-in-all, Birger Steen believes good strategy is the result of concentrated, iterative and open minded reflection, analysis, and synthesis. It is not a vision or a to-do list, but, rather, strategy is a State of Mind that is useful in most situations in life most of the time.

Upcoming Events

Spring Quarter TGIF, May 15th, 5-8pm at The Swiss
Save the date for the final TGIF of the 2014-15 academic year.

Milgard School of Business Hooding Ceremony, June 12th, 2pm William Philip Hall
We will celebrate and recognize the academic acheivment of Milgard MBA and MAcc graduates from autumn 2014, winter, spring and summer 2015.

Spring Quarter Executive Speaker, Date and location TBD

Brett Lowry, Senior Vice President and Controller at Avanade will be the Executive Speaker for Spring Quarter. His talk will focus on financial management. Mr. Lowry holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance from Boston University and an MBA in Finance from Bentley University.  Headquartered in Seattle, Avanade is an Accenture company that provides various IT solutions services and employs more than 22,000 professionals and has more than 2 billion dollars in annual revenue.

The date is TBD but please feel free to bring your spouse/significant other/colleagues and friends to the event.


Milgard MBA Student & Alumni Happenings

If you haven't already done so, join the Milgard MBA group on LinkedIn and connect with the MBA Association (MBAA) on Facebook

If you have pictures or updates to share in the next version of the Milgard MBA Newsletter please email your submissions to Aubree Steffens.

The Milgard School of Business at the University of Washington, Tacoma is accredited by the AACSB and the MBA program is ranked by US News.  The school offers undergraduate, MBA, Master of Accounting, and Master of Cybersecurity & Leadership (in collaboration with the Institute of Technology) programs.