MBA Newsletter Autumn Quarter 2015

Main page content

Milgard School of Business MBA Newsletter Autumn 2015 Vol VI(I)

In this issue:

Updates from the MBA Director, Dr. Eugene Sivadas
Greetings from the MBA Association President, Jordan Lyon, MBA '16
MBA Alumni Profile: Anne Kerker, MBA '10
MBA Student Profile: Kristine Grace, DDS, MBA '16
MBA Student Profile: Patrick Miles, MBA '15, BABA '13
MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Gim Seow
Autumn Quarter Executive Speaker Series: Lisa Nitze, Executive Director Social Venture Partners Seattle

MBA Updates:  Reimagining the Quarterly TGIF and Executive Speaker Series and Career Management Workshops.

Greetings. I am very proud to note the strides made by the MBA Association over the past couple of years.  Among other things, they welcome new students to our community by organizing a social right after orientation.  The MBA Association has hosted some great events for students, alumni and their spouses with the next one scheduled for December 18th. Many of you have experienced the events the enthusiastic team of students has put together. Their events are much grander than the TGIF’s the school has been hosting over the past many years.  Given that the school does partially sponsor the MBAA events and it is aimed at the same group of alumni and current students, to avoid redundancy the school will host fewer TGIFs.  We will coordinate our events with the MBAA and may occasionally host TGIFs. 

Starting 2014-15, we have also made the quarterly MBA Executive Speaker Series a more prominent event.  We host a reception at the event as well.  We hope you can make it to these events and socialize and connect with students and alumni plus listen to an interesting talk.  You can find a summary of the Autumn Executive Talk given by Lisa Nitze from Social Venture Partners in this newsletter. I hope it piques your interest in attending future Executive Speaker Series.  We welcome your suggestions and recommendations for an Executive Speaker and would very much like to tap into your connections.  We prefer someone from the C-Suite for mid-sized and smaller companies and VP/SVP’s from larger corporations.  If you know someone interesting who would be interested, please do get in touch with me at

Last June we piloted a career management workshop for our students.  We are expanding it and in January/February we will offer to our current students an 18 hour career management workshop.  It will be held on three Saturdays and conducted by executive coach Marcy Porus-Gottlieb and will include hands on workshops on managing one’s linked in profile, interviewing for success, and developing and enhancing a personal brand.  We hope our students will take advantage of these opportunities.

On behalf of the MBA Program, I wish you and yours a happy holiday season and a wonderful 2016.


Greetings from the MBA Association President, Jordan Lyon, MBA '16 

Jordan Lyon currently serves as the MBA Association President. One of his personal challenges for the organization is to create an association that people want to be involved in. He feels that, being a young organization, the MBA Association has endless potential. This leaves a lot of room for growth. Jordan’s goal is to, “create an MBA Association that is integral to the program as a whole.” He also wants to create an environment, “where students not only attend our different events, but also become contributing leaders of the executive board.”

Many of the short-term goals for the MBA Association include creating increased participation between students and the alumni. Jordan feels a large value of the MBA Association is in the networking opportunities. Jordan states, “Our team envisions the MBA Association as being the bridge that helps students and alumni create stronger relationships with each other. These relationships are one of the main reasons I chose to join the MBA program.”

When asked about the challenges the organization faces Jordan said, “The main challenge our organization is facing revolves around creating demand and value for the MBA program members. Although the MBA program itself has been around for quite a while, the MBA Association is only in its third year. Our challenge involves creating an Association that is relevant, engaging, and helpful throughout every step in one’s pursuit of an MBA here at UWT.”

 The MBA Association currently plans to partner with a local community-based organization, at this time that association has not picked an organization. Jordan feels these opportunities are important for the Milgard School of Business and the local community to come together.

Upcoming Events:

The MBA Association will be hosting their third annual holiday party, December 18th from 6-9pm at the Harmon Tap Room. The event will be a wonderful networking and social opportunity for alumni and students outside of the classroom. Click here to RSVP.

How to Get Involved:

Milgard MBA alumni interested in learning about opportunities to partner with the MBA Association should contact Alumni Relations Chair, Chris Hedegaard at


Alumni Profile: Anne Kerker, MBA 2010

Anne earned her MBA from the Milgard School of Business in 2010. She received her undergraduate degree in Finance at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. Anne was attracted to the Milgard MBA because it offered flexible class schedules that allowed her to maintain her full-time position while receiving a quality education. Anne recently joined The TUI Group (a multinational travel and tourism company) as Head of HR, North America. Anne has held Human Resources positions within several different industries and is pleased with the diversity of her experience. Her largest motivation for joining The TUI Group was a desire to work in an industry which she was passionate about, which is definitely the travel industry.

Anne finds the most fulfilling aspect of Human Resources is the wide variety of responsibilities. Her work can range anywhere from negotiating multi-million dollar insurance contracts to coaching leaders and employees on their effectiveness. She takes great pride in her role which allows her to make an impact on the company, as well as, her fellow employees. Anne states that the MBA program opened doors for her which would not have possible with only her undergraduate degree. She feels fortunate to work for an organization where she can utilize her education from the MBA program on a daily basis.

In Anne’s spare time she loves to travel. All of her colleagues have visited all seven continents and most have been to over one hundred countries. She has set the goal to do the same. When Anne is home she enjoys spending time with her husband (fellow MBA alum, Bryce Kerker), reading, hiking with her dogs, golfing and watching the Chicago Bears-even during a less than stellar season.

MBA Student Profile: Kristine Grace, DDS, MBA '16

Kristine Grace earned her DDS at the University of Washington, Seattle and her Master’s Degree in Oral Pathology. She then did a residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Afterwards, she went into private practice. Sixteen years later, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in business because she fell in love with the business aspect of her private practice-- especially accounting and marketing.

Kristine is an oral surgeon and owns a private practice in Puyallup. She has minimized her clinical duties to allow herself time to attend the master’s program.  The MBA program at UW Tacoma was offered locally and the perfect fit for her new educational endeavor. Kristine did not begin the program intending to do something specific with the new master’s degree, but she knew it was a road she wanted to embark upon. Kristine feels there are a lot of opportunities in managed care of dentistry. Currently she does a lot of charitable work and felt that the MBA would also help her develop a useful knowledge base she could share with these organizations.

Kristine’s favorite thing about the MBA program is that every new class is her favorite class. She was surprised that she loved all of the classes. Business courses on management and team dynamics and marketing have left the largest impression on her.  She said the Master’s program has, “opened a door of a career path that I never knew existed”.

Kristine’s biggest surprise about the MBA was the amount of group projects.  To her, the science degrees were all about being number one and having the highest class rank. She feels the MBA program is quite the opposite. It is about getting along with others and working as a team. She said it took a while to get into that mindset, but now she embraces every chance she gets to work with new people.

Her advice for those entering the MBA program: “Be prepared for the amount of time, energy and sacrifices you need to make to get the most out of the program. It is not hard to be in the program, but it is hard to get a lot out of it if you are not willing to put the time in. If you just show up to class and put a minimal amount of effort in you will get your letters, but you need to get engaged and pour yourself into it. In surgeon terms, you gotta eat the meat off the bone, and suck that bone dry". 


 MBA Student Profile: Patrick Miles, MBA '15, BABA '13

Patrick Miles graduated from the University of Washington Tacoma with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 2013. He chose to pursue a general business concentration so that he could earn his degree taking a mix of Marketing and Management classes and round it out with a minor in Economics. Patrick always knew he wanted to focus on Marketing and Management and felt the best way to accomplish this was through a General Business degree.

Patrick is currently an Assistant Manager of Patient Accounts at DaVita, his special way of saying, “I am an Assistant Manager in Collections”. He began his career at DaVita in their eighteen month leadership development program designed to give participants a broad view of how the separate departments within the company interact. In his current position he oversees twelve employees who are responsible for obtaining accurate payments from those receiving dialysis treatments. Team members work closely with insurance companies to accomplish these goals. The DaVita leadership program’s emphasis on the value and importance of education lead Patrick to pursue his MBA. DaVita also offers financial incentives for its employees which was a contributing factor for Patrick. The convenient location was a large benefit for him when choosing UW Tacoma over other MBA programs.

One of the most surprising aspects of the MBA program for Patrick was the similarity between MBA and BABA classes. However, he feels that many professors of the higher level courses have, “changed the model.” He has most enjoyed Dr. Merchant’s Marketing course, Dr. Purdy’s Capstone course and Dr. Perryman’s Strategy course.

Patrick’s advice for those seeking the MBA Program: “Get to know your cohort. You’re going to spend a lot of time with them over the next two to six years. I know that people in my cohort have helped me when things got rough between work, school and family life. Not only will these relationships help you when you need someone to take notes for you in a class, [but]… something you learned from a classmate or professor will have an impact on you [in your career]. Look for these nuggets and use them.”

*Editor’s Note: Congratulations to Patrick and his fellow classmates from the Gold Cohort of 2014 who are completing their MBA degree requirements autumn quarter 2015.


MBA Faculty Profile: Dr. Gim Seow

Dr. Gim Seow moved to Washington from Connecticut with his wife in August 2014 after 23 years as a professor at University of Connecticut. Dr. Seow comes with a diverse educational background: his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Singapore (now the National University of Singapore), his MBA in finance from Canada and his PhD in accounting from the University of Oregon. He chose to work for UW because the Puget Sound region is a wonderful place to live, with its moderate climate and many opportunities for outdoor activities. He will be teaching his first class in the Milgard MBA during winter of 2016.

Dr. Seow was an engineer for several years. During his career as an engineer he experienced first-hand the business cycle, and felt that becoming a professor was an optimal choice given the unstable job market. Becoming an accounting professor was more by chance than a deliberate choice, as he was nearing the end of his master’s degree, two of his professors suggested that he pursue his PhD. He chose to go into accounting because the analytical training from electrical engineering made the transition easier.

As a professor, he most enjoys learning about the cultures of his students and the way people think about issues and problems. He consults with businesses and understands how business executives think about issues and solve problems. The knowledge gained through his consulting activities proves valuable to students in his classes. He feels the older generation does not always understand the way the younger generation thinks. While the older generation values stability in a traditional family setting, the younger generation’s exposure to financial crises and global terrorism has made them more risk tolerant and more resilient to unexpected challenges. His desire is to connect the generations.

His word of advice for those contemplating going into the MBA program: “Get a few years of work experience first. It is important for students to know what they enjoy or dislike before making a professional change.” He feels that the MBA is a good platform for transitions. It is helpful for someone seeking to change career paths or for someone intent on advancing in their current career.

The most challenging thing for him as a professor is teaching introductory courses. He feels that many students taking a business class for the first time have difficulty relating to real business examples. He said you usually have to bring examples down to the students’ level so that they can relate.

The most enjoyable aspect of being a professor is the ability to meet new people constantly. He enjoys getting to know his students. In his spare time he loves to read, watch movies and dabble in cooking. When asked whether he thought of becoming a chef, he responded, “Kitchens are too hot.”


Autumn Quarter Executive Speaker Series: Lisa Nitze, Executive Director Social Venture Partners, Seattle

The MBA Program was graced with the presence of Lisa Nitze on November 3rd, 2015 for its autumn quarter Executive Speaker Series.  Lisa is the Executive Director of Social Venture Partners Seattle. Her presentation was titled, “How Social and Economic Forces have Created Opportunity for Stakeholders to Obtain Leverage and Shared Value through Collaboration.” Her contributions have helped build communities across the country and improve the common welfare of others.

Nitze mentioned that non-profits are ceasing to exist in the traditional sense. Many non-profits are becoming hybrid companies by combining both the for-profit and goodwill aspects together. This allows these companies to hold themselves accountable for their contributions to the community. Nitze gave an example of a non-profit organization that gave away coats to the homeless. The organization had no method of keeping track of those whom they had assisted. As a result, many of the homeless were coming by each week for a new coat, then turning around and selling it for cash. Unfortunately, this defeated the goals of the non-profit. Had the organization been responsible for the transactions and held accountable for their merchandise, it may have kept its mission moving forward.

Nitze also spoke of how large companies are partnering with non-profit organizations. An example being for the shoe manufacturer TOMS.  For each purchase a customer makes, TOMS helps provide shoes and other necessities to people in need across the world. Many of these companies are finding that by working together they both benefit. Consumers develop a brand loyalty to TOMS over other comparable options because the company gives back, while the non-profit organization receives the funding it needs to continue its mission.

According to Nitze, large enterprises with good-will programs help others while also helping themselves. A good example of social enterprise is Starbucks’ new employee education benefit. The company created an educational program for its employees as an attempt to combat high turnover rates. With the program, Starbucks will cover college tuition expenses up to four years. Many employees stay with the company longer as they earn their free education. The cost to provide this benefit was far less than their turnover expenses. As a result, the program saves the company millions of dollars each year. Additionally, these benefits have made Starbucks a place where potential employees aspire to work.