Albers Brief Fall 2016

A Publication of the Albers School of Business and Economics

Dean's Message

I am beginning my sixteenth year as dean of the Albers School, which is way beyond the average tenure of a dean, and I am sure that in fall 2001, I had no idea how long this role would last! I still love doing it and feel privileged to work with the faculty and staff of the Albers School, who are so dedicated to our students and our mission!

What keeps it interesting? You can read this edition of the Albers Brief and find out! Consider:

  • We have terrific students, as illustrated by the story of Professional MBA student Katrina Phiri or the work of our students in the Undergraduate Leadership Program students. I am especially proud of their Leadership Action Projects!
  • We have skilled and devoted faculty and staff! We are losing one with the retirement of Dr. Vidya Awasthi, but we always succeed in recruiting a worthy replacement!
  • We have accomplished alumni who are making important contributions to our community. The story on Carol Nelson is one example of that!
  • We have long-standing successful programs that significantly enrich the student experience in Albers. Our Mentor Program is second to none, and you will find the story on the program very compelling.
  • We are so pleased and honored to welcome Alan Mulally as a Senior Fellow in the Center for Leadership program! The last Brief detailed his visits to campus in fall 2015, and now we benefit from his wisdom and experience in an expanded way!
  • I can also tell you that we are in the midst of a great launch of our new MS in Business Analytics program. We will hit our 2019-20 enrollment goal in fall of 2016!

So, as you can see, being the dean of the Albers School is a great job and it always stays interesting! A special thank you to all who share your time, talent, and treasure with the Albers School! It adds so much to what we are able to offer to our students and makes the dean’s job so much easier and fun!

Image: Joe's signature

Joseph M. Phillips
Dean, Albers School of Business and Economics 

Albers Undergraduate Leadership Program (UGL)

Albers launched the Albers Undergraduate Leadership Program in 2007 in an effort to add more “professional development” academic opportunities to the undergraduate curriculum. Developed by Professor Susan Weihrich and Dr. Teresa Ling, the UGL was originally intended as a pilot program that would eventually be required for all Albers students. After two years, Professor Sharon Lobel, an expert in the field of leadership, took the reins and revamped it into a program with a broader curriculum. It now entails not only a foundation course in leadership, but also a 3-4 year series of supporting activities, including the Albers Undergraduate Leadership Club.

Originally open to freshmen and juniors, as well as transfer students, the UGL is now only available to freshmen and sophomores. Admission is by application only. “I’m looking for students who have a desire to develop their leadership capacity, who are disciplined, who are strong academically, and who agree to the commitment that will be required of them,” said Lobel. The number of applicants has been growing, as has the class size.

Although the UGL overlaps in some respects with programs in other business schools, it has three signature elements that make it innovative and distinct:

1. Leadership Action Project (LAP)

Student teams are challenged to address one or more issues that business students face within Albers or Seattle University. The project must be broad enough to require sustained effort over the six months of the foundation UGL course. The teams must identify key stakeholders, speak with individuals in administration throughout Seattle University, apply influence tactics, develop budgets, and benchmark other universities. 

Examples of recent Leadership Action Projects are:

  • Students identified the need for a larger rollover amount for the Seattle University meal plan. The amount allowed was $100 per quarter. The result was that the rollover amount was increased from $100 to $250 per quarter. (Note: The 2016 cohort is working with Rob Schwartz, AVP for Facilities Administration, to expand use of meal plan dollars off campus.)
  • Students determined that the library needed to provide expanded library hours during finals week. The result of their project was that library administrators agreed to their request and implemented the extension. (Note: The 2016 cohort is
    working with library staff to expand library hours year-round.)
  • One student identified the need for improved labeling for foods that contain the eight main food allergens at the food outlets on campus. She continues to work with campus vendor Bon Appétit on this issue. 
  • Students identified a problem with long wait times at the Bottom Line coffee café in the PACCAR Atrium of the Pigott Building. The solution that was implemented was a two-line system, one line for hot food and one line for already-prepared food.

2. Albers Undergraduate Leadership Club

The Undergraduate Leadership Club supports ongoing leadership development for UGL students. Members design leadership development activities, sponsor activities for the broader Albers and Seattle University student body, manage a budget, and identify service opportunities. The UGL Director serves as advisor to the club, attends club and officer meetings, and advises the club president in weekly one-on-ones.

3. Extracurricular Requirements

In order to facilitate leadership development over time, students are required to participate in a set of ongoing extracurricular activities, such as workshops, service, speaker events, and paying attention to physical health.

Students from the Undergraduate Leadership Program are honored by wearing a special cord at graduation. What they take with them into their careers, however, lasts a lifetime.

“UGL has given me the opportunity to identify my strengths and work on my weaknesses within an organization of elite Albers students. For me personally, it has helped me immensely with my confidence to speak to superiors and network with community leaders,” said Will Cohen (’17), UGL President of Leadership.

According to Thu Trinh (’18), “Carrying out the Leadership Action Project and being on the club officers team, I became more self-aware, discovered my strengths, and learned to overcome my weaknesses.”  

Albers Faculty Research News

Matt Isaac’s (Associate Professor of Marketing) paper, “Is Eco-Friendly Unmanl y? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption,” co-authored with Aaron R. Brough (Utah State University), James E.B. Wilkie (University of Notre Dame), Jingjing Ma (Peking University), and David Gal (University of Illinois at Chicago), has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Greg Magnan’s (Professor of Management) article, “Relational Architecture and Relational Capability: Organizational Levers to Support Strategic Supplier Relationships,” coauthored with Stanley Fawcett (Weber State University), Marc Day, and Carola Hillenbrand (both at the Henley Business School), has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Procurement Management.

Dean Diavatopoulos’s (Assistant Professor of Finance) article, “Does Corporate Governance Matter for Equity Returns?” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Accounting and Finance.

Bridget Hiedemann’s (Professor of Economics) paper, “Disability and Labor Market Earnings: Hearing Earnings Gaps in the United States,” co-authored with SU students Tom Glassman (JD/MSF) and Shandra Benito (BA Social Work), has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

Jessica Imanaka’s (Associate Professor of Business Ethics) paper, “The Role of the Imagination in Whole Person Education: Creativity, Empowerment, and Transformation,” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Jesuit Business Education

David Arnesen (Professor of Business Law) and Terry Foster’s (Associate Professor of Business Law) article, “Planning for the Known, Unknown and Impossible – Responsible Risk Management to Maximize Organizational Performance,” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences.

Joe Barnes’s (Lecturer in Marketing) book, “Social Media Ethics Made Easy,” that is a guide for students and business
leaders about how to implement a social media ethics policy and meet disclosure requirements, as required by the Federal Trade Commission for all businesses, will be published in Business Expert Press.

Matt Isaac’s (Associate Professor of Marketing) article, “When (Firsthand) Experience Matters Less Than You Expect: The Influence of Advertising on Repurchase Decisions,” co-authored with Morgan Poor (University of San Diego), will be published in the Rutgers Business Review.

Welcome to Albers, Alan Mulally!

Alan Mulally, retired President & CEO of Ford Motor Co. and former President & CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, joined the Center for Leadership Formation in April 2016 as a Senior Fellow. Mulally will work with faculty, students, and alumni in the Executive Leadership and Leadership Executive MBA programs. Both programs will introduce into the curriculum key aspects of Mulally’s signature leadership strategies, including “Working Together” and “Business Process Review.”



Student Profile: Katrina Phiri

The Road to Seattle

Seattle or South Africa: where would you choose to live? That was the decision Professional MBA student Katrina Phiri (’17) had to make with her boyfriend last year. Growing up in Zambia and South Africa, Phiri was working in Japan with the Japanese Exchange Teaching (JET) program when she met Marc, who was from Washington and had previously worked in the same program. When they decided to leave Japan, each went back to their home countries to work, intending to end up in the same place soon. The question then became, “Where should we go?” After weighing the pros and cons of each location, Seattle won.

Once the decision to move to Seattle was made, and knowing she wanted to pursue an MBA, Phiri visited Seattle for two months. “I was on a mission to find an MBA program that would support the dynamic, experiential, and supportive learning environment I was looking for,” she said. She visited a number of schools in the Seattle area. “My visit to SU was by far my favorite and provided me with infinitely more than I could have ever gleaned from the brochure or website,” said Phiri. She was fortunate enough to be able to sit in on MBA 5205 (Teams, Creativity, and Decision-Making) taught by Professor Bill Weis. “My interactions with the professor as well as the students in the class made a strong impression, leaving me with no doubt as to which business school I would be applying,” she said. She is happy to say that her experience to date has far exceeded her expectations. 

One year into her MBA program, Phiri has taken advantage of the many opportunities available to expand her network and knowledge. She has attended the frequent networking events put on by a number of organizations such as the Albers Placement Center, the Albers Graduate Student Association (AGSA), and the Graduate Student Council (GSC). She also attends the Albers Executive Speaker Series events as much as possible. She was honored to be a panelist for the Mark Mason (Chairman & CEO of HomeStreet Bank) event in May. “Getting to grill a CEO was a lot of fun!” she said. Phiri also highly recommends the Albers Mentor Program. As she put it, “Once you’ve been matched to a mentor, you have this golden opportunity to develop business contacts, discuss career goals, access industry information, and gain valuable insights from an experienced professional.” She values the experience and plans to continue her relationship with her mentor when the year ends.

Phiri did her undergraduate work at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Science, majoring in Finance. After graduation, she turned down two jobs with financial institutions and “instead found myself half-way across the world in beautiful Japan,” she said. Having spent a total of four years in Japan, Phiri returned to South Africa, where she went into management consulting. She soon learned that she wanted to focus on risk consulting. Her goal is to work as a risk consultant with one of the “big four” and ultimately to become a business strategist. According to Phiri, “I am using the MBA to make that transition.”

In addition to studying, going to classes, taking advantage of networking and learning opportunities, and working as a graduate assistant at Albers, Phiri also is co-president of the Albers Graduate Student Association and is the Associate Vice Chair of Finance and Strategic Planning for the Graduate Student Council. In whatever “free” time she has, Phiri enjoys studying Japanese, volunteering at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, watching movies, singing, listening to podcasts, spending time with her boyfriend, and “trying to have some semblance of a social life.”


Albers Executive Speaker Series

Colleen Brown, Chair of the Board, American Apparel

American Apparel: Difficult Choices

Colleen Brown knew she was in for a challenge when she joined the American Apparel board of directors in August of 2014. CEO and founder, Dov Charney, had recently been ousted due to allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The brand — known for its commitment to producing trendy American-made fashion — was close to bankruptcy, having lost around $300 million in five years. Because of her dedication to workers’ rights and corporate responsibility, Brown’s goal was to help the company survive and keep as many of its 10,000 workers employed as possible.

Her motto, “laughter is the best medicine,” has given Brown the ability to surmount many challenges. As the fourth of ten children, she was responsible for running the house for her family after her mother passed away. That instilled a strong work ethic and can-do attitude. She also knew that the only way to get ahead was to earn a scholarship and attend college. Her motivation paid off as she earned her degree and even served on her first board of directors in her late 20’s. Since then, she has chaired the board of companies such as, was the VP of a Fortune 1000 Company, and eventually joined Fisher Communications as director, president, and CEO.

Since joining American Apparel, Brown has successfully helped them file for bankruptcy, navigate numerous legal cases, and transition back to private ownership. Unlike most companies that file for bankruptcy, American Apparel made it out on the other side and emerged from bankruptcy in February 2016. Although some store closures and layoffs were necessary for the company to regain its footing, Brown said her main goal now is to improve employee morale and ensure the continued viability of American Apparel.

Rich Barton, Co-founder of Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor

Power to the People: How Technology is Catalyzing a New Industrial Revolution

Rich Barton is obsessed with information. His successful companies have all been unified around the theme of helping consumers find information to enable them to make better choices. His motto is “power to the people,” and he sees the rise of access to information and empowerment of customers as the new industrial revolution. After graduating from Stanford, Barton joined Microsoft in 1991 as a product manager. He animatedly described his frustration at being forced to arrange his own work travel through travel agents on the phone. He was inspired to create Expedia because he believed that he could plan his own trips more efficiently and quickly with direct access to the flight information. Although the business was technically a travel business, not a software business, Bill Gates supported him working on the Expedia concept on a small scale in-house. In 1999, Barton decided to spin out Expedia after being turned down by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when he asked for $100 million to market it. The unprecedented success of Expedia fueled his desire to knock down the barriers standing in the way of access to information in other industries. 

Barton believes technology is the catalyst that is revolutionizing every industry, and he has been on the forefront of many of the transformational trends in tech. He believes that robots will soon be more a part of our everyday life and encourages students to learn more about technology and data. In order to invent the next new revolutionary tool, he says to look at the things that cause us frustration in our lives and figure out a way to solve them.

Mark Mason, Chairman & CEO of HomeStreet Bank

HomeStreet Bank: Doing Well by Doing Good

During Albers’ annual Ethics Week, Mark Mason spoke to a crowded auditorium. Over the last decade, banking has become a controversial industry surrounded by distrust, skepticism, and, in some cases, blame. As Mason said, “Since the recession, the trust factor of bankers has fallen to the position just above government, but now we’re below lawyers.” HomeStreet Bank, however, has differentiated itself based on the good, ethical, and responsible work it does for its customers, in the community, and for its employees.

In late 2009, Mason was brought on as a turnaround specialist to help get the almost century-old bank and mortgage lender back on its feet. The bank had had to make some very difficult ethical decisions before the recession, including avoiding issuing sub-prime mortgages, continuing to give to charity, and adding to its employees’ retirement fund. Unfortunately, being a good corporate citizen put it in the position of having accrued $1.1 billion in bad loans with only $100 million in capital. Mason met with the FDIC expecting to have to talk about shutting down the bank. Instead, he was given as much time as he needed to turn HomeStreet around because the bank was widely considered to be the best corporate citizen in the western region.

After joining HomeStreet, it took Mason about a year and a half to get the bank on the right track. In 2012 it went public, raising almost $100 million. HomeStreet’s IPO was the second best performing that year, and it was named the most
profitable bank in the U.S. in 2012. No matter its financial state, today HomeStreet continues to focus on its core principles.


Faculty Profile: Vidya Awasthi

A Calming Force

A beloved accounting faculty member retired at the end of spring quarter 2016 and will be greatly missed by all. Associate Professor Vidya Awasthi was a favorite of students, faculty, and staff members alike. Originally from India, Awasthi found his passion for accounting later in his career. His undergraduate degree is in biology from Meerut University and he has a master’s degree in political science. It was only after he earned his MBA at California State University, Fresno, that he went on to earn his PhD in managerial accounting at the University of Washington. 

Awasthi came to Seattle University in 1996. Before his retirement, he taught primarily in the areas of management and cost accounting. His research was in the areas of business ethics and management control, including international aspects of each. 

In a moving tribute to Awasthi, a group of accounting students put together a video about him which they presented at the Accounting Awards Banquet in the spring of 2016. Multiple accounting faculty, staff, and students were interviewed for the video, and what stood out was the profound respect they all had for Awasthi’s teaching methods, care for his students, and
calm nature.

Much of Awasthi’s impact on students can be traced to his attitude. Even when teaching on a Friday afternoon, he went to class with a great attitude and a smile. It inspired his students to study and give their all because he was giving his all. One
student, who was an accounting tutor, told a story of Awasthi asking her to help him grade a test. After they were done, he asked her to teach him the names of every Chinese student. She was so impressed with how much he really cared about his students. 

Many faculty expounded on Awasthi’s calming nature. Associate Dean Susan Weihrich said, “The lasting impact that Vidya has had on me is more personal than professional and that is to stay calm when things around you aren’t calm and to call on your inner peace.” Professor Bruce Koch also values Awasthi’s temperament. He said, “We would sit and talk about a
crisis and we would try to make a molehill out of a mountain rather than the other way around.” Professor Chips Chipalkatti added, “He is someone that you can always go to and talk to. He is a calm person and he has a certain quiet
strength about him, so at any point in time when you have all this stuff going on around you, you can go to his office
and he will tell you something nice that will calm you down.” 

Albers Dean Joe Phillips said, “The most important thing I’ll remember about Vidya is his way of proceeding. Just a gentle soul. So supportive of everybody, students, faculty, and staff. Very kind. When he had concerns about issues he had a nice way of bringing them to my attention.” 

An avid reader and yoga practitioner, Awasthi will no doubt have plenty to keep himself busy in retirement. We wish him the best and hope to see him in the future at Albers events.

Albers Mentor Program

Now in its 27th year, the Albers Mentor Program was developed by Albers dean Jerry Viscione and director of graduate programs Mary Conrad. Developed as part of an initiative to help grow the graduate program and make it more competitive in the area, the Mentor Program has become highly acclaimed by the greater Seattle business community and our students.

Small groups of 1 to 3 students meet with a mentor every 4-6 weeks throughout the academic year. Mentors serve as advisors and sources of industry information, discuss business projects, and help establish contacts in the business community. Students often discuss their career goals with mentors who offer advice and assistance.

This is a unique opportunity for graduate-level and senior undergraduate business students to interact with upper-level executives from leading Puget Sound companies and organizations. In addition to the networking possibilities, it also offers
students access to industry information and valuable insights from experienced and successful professionals.

No two mentors in the program are alike, just as no two students are alike. The way a mentor and his or her mentees interact and what they do during their time together varies. Some mentors use a very structured approach, while others
are more casual. Examples of activities/discussions students and mentors participate in are:

  • Mock interviews – mentor interviews the students 
  • Resume reviews – mentor brings in a Human Resources representative from the company to review the students’ resumes
  • Presentations/conversations with representatives from various departments in the mentor’s company
  • Company tours 
  • Networking events – mentor and mentees practice networking through a professional association, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce event, or other venue

The kickoff of the Mentor Program in 1990 was a Mentor Fair, where mentors and students met and networked before deciding who they would like to work with during the school year. 50-60 mentors, many of them from the Dean’s Advisory
Board, participated, along with an equal number of students. In 1992, the program moved under the coordination of the Albers Placement Center. At that time, the program was revised to have a ratio of 2-3 students per mentor. It was eventually extended to include undergraduate seniors. In 2003, an Accounting Mentor Program was introduced by Susan Weihrich, chair of the Department of Accounting, and incorporated into the Mentor Program.

The program has grown exponentially over the years to the point where over 150 mentors and over 300 students participated in 2015-16. In total, over 2,000 mentors and over 4,500 students have been involved in the program in the past 26 years. 

The value of a program, of course, comes down to the outcomes for the parties involved. Based on both mentor and mentee assessments, the program can be considered a huge success!

“Working with students is one of my most gratifying activities—they have allowed me to be part of their experience.”
Jeff Levy, President, The Entrepreneur's Source, Mentor Since 1995

“My mentor was encouraging, honest, and authentic, which allowed me to connect on a professional and personal level.”
Lindsey McGrew, Current Professional MBA Student

“I have been a team captain, teacher, team lead, Sargent, supervisor, and manager, but none of these roles compare to how rewarding it is to be a mentor.”
Barb DeLauter, IT Sr. Business Analyst, King County, Mentor Since 2013

“The mentor program has been the most rewarding experience I’ve participated in at Albers.”
Case Nichols, 2015 Graduate, Marketing Major

For more information on the Mentor Program, go to

Alumni Profile: Carol Nelson

A Leader Among Bankers

Albers double alumnae Carol Nelson (BABA, Finance ’78 and MBA ’84) originally meant to pursue a career in accounting. But finance classes led her to the decision that banking would become her life’s work. Her uncle — who served on the Seattle Branch board of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco — supported her conclusion. “Learning about his experience really cemented my interest in banking,” she said.

Nelson’s banking career took off when she was accepted into a management training program at Seafirst Bank (now Bank of America). Two years in, she realized she needed to further her education in order to advance her career and gain a competitive edge. She started taking one MBA class per quarter and quickly saw the advantage of getting her MBA. “My MBA classes allowed me to leverage my course work with real life experience,” she said, “and had direct application to current and relevant issues I was dealing with at work.”

Now, 30 years into a fruitful career, Nelson is KeyBank’s top executive in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle market president.

In her leadership role, she takes great satisfaction from coaching employees to achieve their career potential. On a personal level, she aspires to continuous learning and growth. She credits her success to that, and to being open to new job opportunities.

Surprisingly, when asked which classes at Seattle U stood out for her, Nelson credits philosophy and theology for helping her develop invaluable critical thinking skills.

A heavy work schedule during both her undergraduate and graduate studies prevented Nelson from participating in on-campus activities. She valued her experience at Seattle University so much, however, that she has made up for that since graduating. She started volunteering as a member of the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board for Albers and has served on Seattle U’s Board of Trustees for the last 11 years.

Nelson’s generosity doesn’t stop at Seattle University. As a leader in banking, she feels a great responsibility to serve her community. “I have volunteered my entire career,” she said. Most recently, that meant chairing the American Heart Association’s 2016 ‘Go Red for Women’ campaign in 2016 and raising more than $425,000 for heart disease research and awareness generation. Past leadership roles have included serving as board chair for the United Way of Snohomish County and the Washington Bankers Association.

Proud to call herself a Seattle native (well, since she was 10!), Nelson attended Lincoln High School before enrolling at Seattle U. She and her husband of 35 years, also a banker, have two grown children. Her younger son is an aerospace engineer who has co-founded a start-up and her older son is head coach at CrossFit North Sound, which he established in Everett in 2012. Nelson herself is a current certified CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. And although she originally took that training to provide emergency back-up for her entrepreneurial son, she now relies on CrossFit to stay healthy despite her demanding work and travel schedule.

Mark Your Calendars!

Albers Executive Speaker Series

Events are held in Pigott Auditorium from 5:30-6:30 p.m. (unless otherwise posted)
Free and open to the public

Kurt Beecher Dammeier
Founder, Sugar Mountain (which includes Beecher Cheese)
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Elena Donio
President, Concur
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Jerry Stritzke
President & CEO, REI
Thursday, January 19, 2017

Doyle Simons
CEO, Weyerhaeuser
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Albers Placement Center Events

Albers Mentor Fair
Friday, October 7, 2016
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
PACCAR Atrium, Pigott Building
Kick-Off event for the Albers Mentor Program

Business & Engineering Career Fair
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Campion Ballroom
Alumni are welcome to attend all campus career fairs to connect and engage with employers.

Internship Fair
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Campion Ballroom

Albers Career Night
Tuesday, February 21 or
Thursday, March 2, 2017
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Location TBD
Networking reception for undergrads to connect with employers and Albers alumni.

More info on these events or need help with career advising? Contact the Albers Placement Center at 206-296-5687 or

Graduate Programs Information Sessions

Seattle: Oct. 14, Nov. 19, Dec. 15
Bellevue: Oct. 11, Nov. 15

For details on these information sessions and future ones, and to RSVP, go to

Business Insights Breakfast

Late January 2017
Economic Outlook for 2017
Watch for details at

Albers Crab Feed

Saturday, March 11, 2017
A celebration of Albers in support of student scholarship. 

Emotional Intelligence Dolomites Expedition

Open to Alumni!

September 2017
This program takes leadership development beyond the bounds of the usual classroom setting to the magnificent Italian Dolomites. This is not a class on the theory of emotional intelligence — you will learn by doing, practicing, failing, and repairing. The course helps you see and know yourself better and communicate effectively to engage, inspire, and support others.

For more information on the September 2017 programs offered, please go to