Valentine’s Day in Thailand with Cricket Flours

It felt as busy as our Engaging Asia trip this past September, but this whirlwind of a journey was completed in only five days. The opportunity to participate in a business plan competition was something I had never experienced before — let alone an international competition. The talent of both the student groups and the judges were top-notch. This included some of the top-ranked schools in both the United States and Asia, as well as some of the most respected companies in Thailand. Being able to compare MBA experiences with people from around the world made for great conversation.

cricket flours team

The Cricket Flours team at our booth

We spent the first three days of the trip entirely focused on the competition. Every free moment was spent refining our presentation and incorporating the judge’s feedback. The months of hard work by the Cricket Flours team was rewarded when we were named our division’s top team. With this designation we earned an automatic berth into the competition’s final round. The finals were broadcasted live on Thai television and had $12,000 on the line. Cricket Flours was selected to present first in the finals round. This was both a blessing and curse because the team would be able to make the first impression on the judges but also meant we would face a panel eager to poke holes in our business plan. Ultimately, Cricket Flours was left out of the top two spots on the podium but the competition provided the team with great feedback concerning our marketing strategy and the cricket flour industry.

Thailand competition

The main stage and the 3 trophies that managed to elude us

After the competition our hosts, the Sasin Graduate School, arranged for us to spend an evening on the river in Bangkok followed by an entire day seeing the main cultural spots in the city. Our night on the river was capped off with a fireworks show in honor of Valentine’s Day. We visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Vimanmek Mansion. Being able to relax and hang out with our new international friends without the pressure of the competition was much needed.

However, as quickly as it had begun, I found myself back in Eugene learning Constitutional Law reminiscing about another incredible international experience provided by the Oregon MBA program.

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Paul Butler is a concurrent JD/MBA student at the University of Oregon currently in the Finance and Securities Analysis Center. His goal after he graduates in 2016 is to apply his education within a corporate finance department.

A week off from classes to explore Seattle

The benefit of the newly implemented “9 plus 1” format for quarters is the ability to spend time in major markets, meeting leaders in a variety of industries. In our most recent trip to Seattle, the Financial Securities and Analysis Center (FSAC) students had the opportunity to meet alone with specific organizations as well as meet collectively with additional organizations. As a larger group we visited the Bullitt Center, which is considered the most sustainable building on the planet. It was designed to last 250 years and is essentially a high-performance LEED certified building. There is little waste produced by the building and its inhabitants, and a majority of that waste is compostable. The building was designed to be self-sustaining, thus has many incredible features that are also aesthetically pleasing. The building itself is home to the Bullitt Foundation and its legendary CEO, Denis Hayes, among other local groups who have decided to lead the sustainability movement.

The entire group of Oregon MBA’s also spent an afternoon at Microsoft learning about their treasury, sustainability, and venture operations. The corporate treasury session, especially for the finance students, was incredibly informative. Many of their decisions are based on the foundations we have been learning about in class, however they are more commas in Microsoft dollars than we are used to.

A trip made by a smaller group of students was to Davis Wright Tremaine, a leading Northwest law firm. We met with Matt LeMaster, head of the Mergers & Acquisitions department. This visit was particularly insightful considering half of the students in attendance were JD/MBA’s. We were given many pieces of advice, but the one that has stuck was “ignore outside factors and continue to strive for our career goals.” Mr. LeMaster’s advice was in specific context to finding employment immediately upon graduation. Everyone likes to complain about the job market and use it as a crutch or an excuse. But Mr. LeMaster drove home the point that year after year people say the market is struggling, and if you believe them and feed into the negativity, it is only you who is going to suffer. He encouraged us to look past that noise and concentrate on what we really wanted to do with our careers.

The final visit of the trip was a lunch meeting with alumni working in both financial services and corporate finance. This lunch included people in a range of positions at Bank of America as well as the President of Aeris Energy. Each spoke about their path and reiterated a point we had heard many times over the trip; the value of relationships within their own careers. Many of the individuals had worked for different companies within their respective industries, or left the industry altogether, but what brought them back or peaked their interest with a particular organization were their personal connections to that company.

Thank you to all of the organizations that welcomed the Oregon MBA into their offices and for sharing their wisdom!

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Paul Butler is a concurrent JD/MBA student at the University of Oregon currently in the Finance and Securities Analysis Center. His goal after he graduates in 2016 is to apply his education within a corporate finance department.

Resumes are Dead

Last night some MBA’s and even one brave undergraduate student had the opportunity to listen from two recruiters about what we, as students, can expect in the current job market. Our first presenter was Trevor Betenson, CFO and HR specialist at Palo Alto Software. Palo Alto creates software to help new companies create a business plan, apply for small loans, and other activities a start up faces. This software is very helpful for the 500,000 new companies that form each month because many fail as a result of the lack of a strong plan. When hiring for a smaller company like Palo Alto, Trevor stressed the importance of wearing many hats and a willingness to take on additional projects to exhibit an employee’s competency.


The second presenter, Brandt Hartley, a Duck and Managing Director of Resource Options International was a little more blunt. He hammered home the unfortunate statistics of resumes and the importance of LinkedIn. The website is now the first place, as a recruiter, he looks for clients and potential employees. A common theme between both Mr. Betenson and Mr. Hartley was the benefit of starting in an organization, no matter the position, and exhibiting competency and a work ethic to get ahead.


The main points made by the two presenters are not ones we have not heard, however, most of the time we students are hearing these points from our career advisers. It was a validating process to hear the same points from people in the field who are recruiting students like us.

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Paul Butler is a concurrent JD/MBA student at the University of Oregon currently in the Finance and Securities Analysis Center. His goal after he graduates in 2016 is to apply his education within a corporate finance department.