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Embracing Change

Change. It can be exhilarating but painful. All too frequently if you want to achieve anything worthwhile you have to make the change yourself. For some, this means taking stock of where you are, where you want to go and determining what actions you must take to get there. It’s daunting. It’s new. It’s exactly what happens when considering changing something in your personal or professional life, and it might lead you to consider earning your MBA.

All of the current MBA candidates at Oregon decided to make a change, and it led us here. Our program is known for its intimate, small cohort with a unique approach to preparing us for our futures. Everyone made a personal decision by coming here, but we had a lot of information to help us make that choice.

Oregon MBA

Oregon’s MBA program is divided into four Centers of Excellence:

This division allows candidates to gain crucial business acumen while building a specialized skillset in small sub-cohorts. “We know our students more personally than we would be able to if we were a 100 student program,” said Michele Henney, Program Manager, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Senior Instructor of Accounting. “In that situation (100+ students), there is no way we could provide the same services.” Each Center’s students are a part of the Oregon MBA program, meaning you know and collaborate with individuals working towards specialized skill sets unlike your own. Although different, each center provides valuable opportunities to its own sub-cohort and is continually looking to improve.

“Our green MBA is really strong. We’re in a region where sustainability and our connection to businesses is very strong. Not every region can say that,” said Dr. Laura Strohm, Program Manager, Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Industry expertise differs from center to center, but each emphasizes the need to prepare candidates to be leaders.

“I think the best thing we can do is prepare students to be comfortable taking leadership positions, analyzing the situations that they find themselves in, because usually MBAs will end up in places where someone looks to them for expertise even though they might not have it,” said Nathan Lillegard, Program Manager, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Instructor of Business.

One of the most compelling reasons to select an MBA program is the culture established by current students, faculty and staff. At Oregon, candidates are motivated by factors like entering a new industry, learning skills to use in a different job function and work locations. “A lot of times the people drawn to the University of Oregon are people who want to stay and work in the Pacific Northwest,” Henney said. These motivations, though not always focused on the highest possible salary, are used by faculty and staff to inspire candidates to think about their careers early, and often.

“You really spend your two years here either landing internships or landing jobs,” said John Hull, Executive Director, Business Innovation Institute, Assistant Dean for Centers of Excellence. Hull stresses the importance of hitting the ground running in that pursuit of change, something candidates might be apprehensive about. “’Wait a minute, I thought I was stepping away from my career for 2 years for education?…Well no, I’m actually supposed to be working on my career stuff from day 1.’”

With strong alumni connections and a growing office of individuals devoted to the career paths of OMBA candidates, Oregon is empowering graduates to aim not for jobs, but careers.

“What makes us different is that you can have a meaningful connection within the industry week in and week out if you want it,” said Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow. “I think we are the only ones who have a standing international travel experience that is imbedded into the framework of the program, and we are trying to differentiate ourselves geographically.”

Swangard’s reference of the yearly Engaging Asia trip taken by second-year MBA candidates is just one of multiple experiential learning trips taken by the Oregon MBA. (Read about the Engaging Asia trip here) Centers travel as far away as Mumbai, India to gain a global perspective. Other domestic trips take MBA candidates to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, Portland. These trips bridge the gap between where candidates once were to where they want to be, allowing them to see, taste, and smell what a particular industry is like.

Change can be challenging but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re thinking about making a change, consider how you’ll make it happen. The destination is the goal but the journey there can be equally important.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

Defining ‘Sustainable Business’: Net Impact Conference 2014

Greenbiz, B-Corp, the three Ps, LEED Certified, CSR, ESG, SRI.  What do all these acronyms and buzz words mean?  And what exactly is a career in sustainable business?  If you’re like me, six weeks into the Sustainable Business Practices MBA at the University of Oregon, that last one is a pretty important question.

The Net Impact Conference, held in Minneapolis Minnesota, came at a perfect time to help me start to understand the broad variety of applications of sustainability in business.

The annual conference brings together thousands of students and business professionals who want to make a positive impact on the world.  It is a weekend for networking, inspirational speeches, exchanging ideas, and pushing boundaries

At this year’s conference, I heard about B-Corps from Andrew Kassoy, the founder of B Lab; discussed the pivotal role women will play in development with Suzanne Fallender (the director of the Global Girls and Women Initiative through Intel) and Faziun Kamal (founder of sourceFK a company that is bringing Bangladesh women out of poverty one silk garment at a time); and was able to ask Jason McBriarty, the Director of Global Community Affairs for Levi Strauss nagging questions surrounding cause marketing and engaging consumers specifically in regards to the Waterless campaign.  I also examined the future of sustainability in business with leaders from Kiva, Microsoft, Best Buy, The National Parks Service, Honest Tea and many like-minded undergraduate and MBA students from across the country.

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Levi’s Water>Less Campaign advertisement started in 2012.

The presentations and conversations provided me with layers of insight into the vague world of sustainable business and by Saturday’s closing ceremony I had come to realize that there might not be one exact answer to my question.  Sustainability takes many forms.  Sometimes it’s providing girls and women in Africa access to the Internet.  Sometimes it’s a certification to help companies measure what matters.  Sometimes it’s a marketing campaign that tells you not to wash your jeans.

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Intel global girls and women initiative. Karibu Centre, Kenya.

What intrigues me about integrating sustainability and business is that it’s open ended.  The Net Impact Conference excited me about the many options and helped me see that no matter what I decide to pursue after business school, I will have the opportunity to impact the world in a positive way.  There are countless ways to alleviate the issues facing our world.  ‘Sustainable business’ just comes down to business that commits to lessen, rather than increase, those issues.  They pledge to use their power and influence as a force for good, inspiring myself and the other attendees of the Net Impact Conference to further these principles.

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. Natalie received a dual undergraduate degree in development anthropology and Latin American studies from the University of Arizona honors college where she was also on the equestrian team.

The Environmentalist’s Dilemma

One of the best things about being a runner is that I get to be (have to be) outside everyday. Rain or shine; in my hometown or halfway across the world. I have gone to the tops of mountains, seen beautiful sunsets, traversed muddy trails, and viewed pristine lakes. Because of this, nature has always held extreme value in my mind and it kills me to think that someday this beauty will look very different.

This is what moved me toward sustainable business and ultimately led me to the Net Impact conference. It was immediately clear that most people there were brought there by passion like mine, motivated by a deep love for something they wanted to protect or improve. It was incredibly inspiring for me to see all the positive things people have done. There is a certain adrenaline rush that comes from being surrounded by people who share similar passions like this. It’s a very similar feeling to the one I get after doing well in a race at a big track meet. In both situations, there is a process to learning how to contain and properly channel these emotions. You want to keep the buzz of energy going to ‘go forth and produce good’, but if you come on too strong, you will burn yourself out and/or just turn people away from your cause rather than draw them to it.

As someone fairly new to the specifics behind sustainable business concepts, I learned many things at the conference that shocked me and changed my views on everything from what I ate and how I traveled to how I felt about modern conveniences. I wanted to stop drinking milk, stop eating beef and chicken, stop driving my car, stop taking showers and tell the rest of America that they should too….but before I did all that, I had to get home to Oregon…..3.5 hr plane ride (.19 metric tons CO2), 2.5 hr van ride (.04 metric tons C02), 4 plastic plane cups, packaged airport sandwiches, half dozen paper hand towels, etc…..

What place do I have to talk about how America should be more sustainable?!

This has to be something that every new cause advocate goes through. How do you jump into a conversation this big without seeming like a hypocrite for living normally in this society? Sure, you could just go and have a carbon negative life as a hermit in the woods but how would that help educate others or change how the world operated as a whole? It wouldn’t.

Throughout the conference, I tried to take note of how the most effective individuals approached these issues. What I learned was that these people chose the topic that they felt strongest about and pushed hard for it while at the same time chipping away little by little at everything else.  Being persistent and consistent but generally flying under the radar a little bit on the peripheral items. Like other concepts in business, sometimes you have to give before you receive. Spend a little carbon in order to meet people in the society of today to gain their trust and attention before sharing what you know and how you feel about the changes that can be made. At Net Impact, I learned that you don’t have to always be a radical or a hypocrite or the best person in the world or the worst but if you truly care about something you can make a difference.

Written by bfranek@uoregon.edu

Bridget was a 2012 Olympian in track and field and will be graduating from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center this December. She originally returned to get her MBA in hopes of better understanding the business side of sports and maximize her experience as a professional athlete. While at Oregon, she learned about the opportunities in sustainable business and has been inspired to figure out a way to use her background in sports as a platform for environmental improvement and social good.

6 Ways to Stay Sane Abroad

Moving to Oregon, from Toronto, to pursue my MBA in Sustainable Business practices from the University of Oregon has brought so many changes upon my life that they’re hard to count.  I’m clearly still me, but in such a bizzarro-world setting that you realize you’re kind of a bizzaro-world you.  So am I my own bizzaro-world self? That would contradict everything Seinfeld has taught us!
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Sometimes I’ll be doing my own thing, then suddenly clue into where I am and what I’m doing and I’m like “Wow, I’m in the United States, this is my life”.  I think we tend to default back to what’s comfortable, so sometimes I think I’m at home in Toronto living my normal life, then boom I’m
biking(!) in a full rain suit through a heavy downpour in Eugene, Oregon.  Going to a movie here was interesting because you lose all sense of reality in a movie theater for 2 hours. When you come to after the credit’s role you’re all like “Oh wait I’m in the state of Oregon”.  Common theme here is that your life goes on wherever you end up, so you’d better keep up with it or it will keep hitting you in the face.

Eight weeks of being here doesn’t make me an expert whatsoever but here’s how I’ve been trying to keep on top of it:

  1. Eat well
  2. Force solo time
  3. Do something you love
  4. Make new friends
  5. Keep old habits, start new ones
  6. Chase waterfalls
    1. Eat well. Now, I don’t necessarily mean eat only 1500 calories a day (ladies, you know what I’m talking about), but I mean eat to stay energized.  I think that when you’re someone in a new place there is extra energy on top of your normal amount of energy required to exist.  So eat up and stay energized, it will benefit you on many levels!! During our two-week orientation I also learned that as an introvert, I direct my energy and attention inward and receive energy from reflecting on my own thoughts, memories, and feelings. So recognizing how you personally generate energy is also important to your overall well-being.
    2. Force solo time.  If, as the introverted ways go, I do require alone time to reflect and reenergize on my thoughts and feelings of the day, then it follows that one must make time for oneself.  If I’m spending all my time socializing, working, sleeping, and the aforementioned eating, without making any time for me, I’m not going to help myself.  You don’t necessarily have to choose solo time over socializing, just make sure you fit it in any way you can. For example, writing this entry today was a good way for me to slow down and have some solo time whilst also doing…
    3. Do something you love. Writing is a suppressed love of mine.  I feel like we spend so much time typing other stuff (emails, essays, texts, Instagram captions) that I figure why bother typing more? However, it’s nice to talk about whatever you want sometimes.  No guidelines, rubrics, or etiquettes to follow. Sigh. So write, knit, whittle, collect buttons; do what you must to keep yourself sane.
    4. And when you go insane? Make new friends, they’ll help keep you sane (hopefully), or at least keep you grounded in reality.  Making new friends allows you to tie yourself into your experience; they’re real people doing the same thing you’re doing.  Your family and friends are still at home, which is the sad reality, but your life is still kind of happening here.  But when things get too real….call someone at home. There’s nothing better than talking to someone familiar.
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    5. Keep old habits, but start new ones.  These habits will force routine, which is a good thing to have when trying to manage a busy schedule. For me this was a two-for-one because my old habit was being active, but my new habit is to be more active.  So I’m really just turbo-boosting being active which is pretty easy with a free gym membership offered through the university, and some epic land features out here.
      DSC_2297
    6. Chase Waterfalls. As far as epic land features go, Oregon has some good ones: coastlines & oceans, mountains, deserts, ancient trees, valleys, painted hills, and waterfalls. Last weekend I woke up Saturday morning, got in the car and went on a #solotrip an hour and a half outside of Eugene, eastward into the interior of the state.  Let me tell you, I passed some GREAT land-before-time-scenic-stuff, but all that will be saved for another time. I drove just outside of Oakridge, Oregon where there is a waterfall called Salt Creek Falls.  It has a 286 ft drop, pitches 90 degrees, and has a 84.35% rating on waterfallsnorthwest.com.  Now exclaiming: “I will go to a waterfall today” and getting excited about it, and then actually going to a waterfall will have a totally different effect on you.  I was pumped I was going to a waterfall, but when I got there I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  Luckily I had brought something to sit on (it’s quite damp at the base of a waterfall), a few letters that deserved responses, and something to snack on. Then I just sat in the dwindling fall sunlight and took that crazy waterfall in.  I drove there burnt out, came back feeling invigorated.  So I guess this was me doing a little bit of 1,2&5 and ultimately helped keep me sane during these turbulent times.
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    7. Oh and a surprise bonus #7: Music. Listen to music, it’s a powerful thing that can get you through the toughest of times.

So while we may develop coping mechanisms for our weaker moments, ultimately we must remember why we chose to undertake this journey. This will help you to focus on the person you want to become and allow you to hone in what you want to take away from living in this bizzaro-world. Everything we do/say/absorb while here will shape our personas for the future.  So when you’re in one of your low moments, remind yourself of the reason why you are in Eugene, it will bring you back that joy of the day you received your acceptance letter.

So thanks for staying sane with me…

Written by Andrea Teslia

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Andrea came to the University of Oregon to complete an MBA in Sustainable Business Practices. Graduating in 2016, Andrea plans to spend the next two years immersing herself in the progressively sustainable culture that has manifested itself on the West Coast of North America.

Exactly Where I’m Supposed to Be

Why am I here? Can I handle this? Was this the right decision? Admittedly, those questions have popped into my head several times over these first six weeks of my first term at the University of Oregon.

Am I in over my head?

A little bit about me: I was born and raised in south Florida and attended Florida State University for my undergraduate business degree, majoring in Finance and Marketing. I am truly a Florida girl! I have never wrestled an alligator, but I love the outdoors, the beach, and the sun.

Graduating in 2005, I was lucky to find a good job and spent almost ten years working for several state agencies in Florida. I know I was lucky to have job security and I know my parents thought I had it “made” with my state job, but something was missing. I felt this disconnect with what my mind and my heart wanted. I tried filling that void outside of work and became an avid runner, a yoga instructor, and volunteer for local animal charities.

This worked for a while…you know…the whole “living for the weekend” thing. But as time went on it became harder and harder to get out of bed. For me, the position was not rewarding and the working environment was not healthy. Just working for a paycheck was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. I was met with answers like “that’s life” and “no one really likes their job” when I expressed my concerns about work. Really? Was this how life was supposed to be?

I am not the type of person to settle and I set out to fix the disconnect between my mind and heart, figuring there had to be more out there. I looked into outdoorsy jobs that didn’t pay anything, I thought about teaching yoga full-time, and I considered going back to school to be a zoologist. All of those things sounded fun, but were they practical and were they me?

Then one day I was researching degree programs and I stumbled upon the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Business Practices MBA. What? I didn’t know that was an option! I immediately had an overwhelming sense of “this is right”. I researched the program and talked to friends about it and everyone raved about the program. I had finally found the program for me. I had finally found my next step in achieving the life I wanted. The MBA appealed to my business-oriented mind and the Sustainable Business Practices concentration spoke to my hippie heart.

So I put things in place and drove 3,000 miles from Florida to Oregon in September. I have those moments of doubt, described above, but even more so I have moments where I pause and think how great it is to be living in Eugene and how I cannot believe I took the risk of leaving the known for the unknown. I felt beat down by my last job and it is taking some time to rebuild my confidence, but I am getting there. This first-term has been challenging, but I know it is worth it.

The first-term classes are reacquainting me with core business functions like Finance and Management while the Sustainability seminar is teaching me more about the triple bottom line and sustainability careers. I am actually writing this post on a flight back from the Net Impact conference in Minneapolis. I got to see the CEO of Unilever and Temple Grandin speak … amazing!

I may have my moments of doubt when things get rough, but I know I am on the right path. Stealing some words of wisdom from my yoga practice: I am exactly where I am supposed to be; letting go of the past, focusing on being present in the moment.

Written by Kelly Kilker

Kelly is a second year UO MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices (Class of 2016). She is a running and yoga enthusiast looking to create and manage employee wellness programs. Kelly did her undergraduate work at Florida State University and is from Boca Raton, Florida.

Paving My Own Way

Growing up as the daughter of a college basketball coach, I was blessed with a childhood that gave me the unique opportunity to be a fly on the wall in the world of college athletics. My father has been at a variety of schools at different levels as both head coach and assistant coach, and currently he is the Associate Head Men’s Basketball coach at North Carolina State University. This upbringing and constant exposure and involvement in college basketball instilled in me an extreme passion for sports. All throughout grade school, I never missed a home basketball game and once I started college I began traveling with the team on all road trips. Basketball was always something that bonded our family. My mom, sister, and I could frequently be found yelling in unison in the stands at a home game or in the visitor’s section in a hostile road environment. Conversations at the dinner table always seemed to center around some aspect of college athletics, from teams to coaches to the constant changes occurring within the NCAA.

My dad, sister, and I with former Pfeiffer University basketball player and current radio analyst for the Portland Trailblazers, Antonio Harvey, on his graduation day.

As I got older and began thinking about a career path,  sports never crossed my mind. I decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in Business at NC State University and constantly struggled to discover a niche within marketing that sparked my interests and excited me. All throughout my undergraduate studies, I subconsciously gravitated towards internships and part-time jobs that involved sports: I worked for the NC State Women’s Basketball team, at a country club, and as an event operations intern at Primesport putting together travel packages to sporting events nationwide. Upon graduation, I earned a full-time internship at the Wolfpack Club, NC State’s athletic fundraising organization. After getting this position, I was came to the realization that it would be impossible to separate my life from sports. The experiences I had as a child in the world of college athletics were some of the best of my life and I realized how impossible it would be for me to ever leave that huge chunk of my identity behind.

My sister and I at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri for a Sweet Sixteen game between NC State and Kansas.

My sister and I at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri for a Sweet Sixteen game between NC State and Kansas.

I began researching jobs and graduate programs in the sports industry during my internship and came across the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. I immediately realized that this program could provide me with the education, exposure, and network that I needed to succeed on the business side of sports. Although the idea of getting an MBA had never previously crossed my mind, I realized what a truly unique opportunity the Warsaw Center could provide me with. I decided to apply, was graciously accepted into the program, and made the difficult but exciting decision to move 3,000 miles away because of the faith and passion I felt from those involved with the center.

After many years of internal reflection, I have come to discover that part of my aversion to working in sports was a desire to make my own path and not use my family name or childhood experiences to define me. The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center has allowed me to carve my own way in an industry that is already such a huge part of my identity. I am so proud of where I came from and the exposure I got to college athletics but am excited about the possibility to impact the world of sports in my own way.

Throughout my two years here I will be able to discover and pursue the area of sports marketing that most fits my passions. After being here for only two months, I have already gained experiences and knowledge that I could not have gotten elsewhere. I applied to this program not only because I wanted to learn about the business side of sports, but also because I wanted to be exposed to all of the niche markets within sports business and marketing that I had never previously known existed. Through center speakers, project involvement, and a worldwide alumni and partnership network, I have learned more in eight short weeks than I ever thought possible and I am confident that the future will continue to bring incredible opportunity. My childhood allowed me to experience first-hand what a difference a coach can make in the lives of their student athletes and I am blessed to be able to carry on this passion to use sports to bring positive change into the lives of others.

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Written by Christine Lutz

Christine was born and raised in North Carolina and is a current second year MBA Student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

Warsaw Heads to Singapore

The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center capped off a whirlwind trip to Asia with a few days in the cosmopolitan island nation of Singapore.  We knew it would be different than Mumbai, Shanghai and Beijing, but the physical differences were felt as soon as we stepped outside of the Changi airport. Singapore is only 85 miles from the equator making for a very hot few days in business casual attire as we attended conferences, visited golf courses and paid a visit to the Singapore Sports Institute before taking in an F1 Racing night practice.

The initial culture shock came as we transitioned from the confines of Beijing to the more Western feeling Singapore, but with a twist. Extreme cleanliness and order, along with the intersection of multiple cultures, differed greatly from the homogenous hustle of China’s capital city.

Our entire entourage was graciously admitted into the second annual Sports Matters Conference. We listened as leaders of sponsorship, leagues, development and large-scale events expounded upon the opportunities and challenges facing southeast Asia and the global community. For two days our group experienced small panel discussions with professionals from HSBC, Samsung, Manchester United, the Women’s Tennis Association and more. Holding true to the global theme of the event, we met another attending group of students from Australia, allowing us to engage a bit of Oceania as well! Lord Sebastian Coe delivered a thought-provoking speech on large scale, worldwide events and what innovative strategies need to be vetted for future success, saying “The old chestnut that sport and politics shouldn’t mix flies in the face of reality.”

The next stop came on the island of Sentosa, a short ride from the center of Singapore. Sentosa Golf Club’s General Manager Andy Johnston hosted us, explaining how the club serves its 1,557 international members. The mix of international membership illustrated just how interconnected business in Singapore is with other parts of Asia.  We closed with a guided tour of the Serapong course, experiencing a green that included a preserved footbridge from WWII and stunning views of the harbor.

Our final visit for the entire trip was with Sport Singapore (SS). Two of our classmates interned there for the entire summer, continuing to enhance the relationship between Oregon and SS. The day included a deep dive into the emergence of sport in the lives of Singapore’s youth. We worked in teams along with SS employees to brainstorm ways to overcome challenges they face working with disadvantaged youth and government red tape. Though we were halfway around the world some of the SS’s challenges felt quite familiar. A tour of the lavish facilities preceded a “Sporting Friday” activity – netball. Though we brought our A game the Warsaw Class of 2015 did not prevail; we cannot wait for the rematch.

On our final evening in Asia we took in the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix practice event with the skyline as our backdrop and two weeks of multicultural business experiences under our belts.  The invaluable experience provided not only exposure to diverse ways to approach the business of sport in southeast Asia but also a once in a lifetime bonding experience for the Warsaw Class of 2015.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

Transactive Energy in Oregon?

What on earth is “transactive energy” and is it a good economic development idea for Oregon? Karl Mundorff of Oregon BEST invited us to participate in an initial conversation about it with many others this week. James Mater of QualityLogic, who is also Chair of Smart Grid Oregon, introduced this very technical topic.

What is a smart grid? It is modern electricity delivery that allows two-way energy demand management between customers and electricity generators or utilities. It makes our grid more efficient, more reliable, more able to support distributed renewable energy sources. The smart grid will allow the integration of electric vehicles, electricity storage, and smart appliances, all decentralized conservation systems in a way.

Transactive energy is a phrase that describes the energy system of the future where dynamic pricing, which reflects the supply-demand equation of the moment, will help smooth out peak demand. It is a marriage of high-tech meters and new energy business models, if you will. This will help us avoid the extreme capital expense of constructing mostly idle, and thus wasteful, peaking plants designed to deliver electricity at times of highest demand.

This is almost opposite of our current centralized utility business model, where big companies are independent, yet heavily regulated. Financial transactions for energy in this traditional model are simple: the customer pays the price for a kWh set by the generator or distributor. However, spot wholesale markets do underpin this system, so utilities are not without experience in dynamic pricing.

The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project can already claim leadership in smart grid/transactive energy research, “contributing technology, utility applications, customer engagement strategies and policy”. For more than a decade, five states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming) have worked together to experiment and demonstrate exactly how smart grid infrastructure can actually work, on many levels. Now is the time to put this new technology together with good regulatory policy and good business models. Exciting new work for our sustainable business graduates!

Written by lstrohm@uoregon.edu

Dr. Laura Strohm is the Program Manager and Senior Instructor of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon.

Emerging Market Fund: Winter 2014 Summary

Overview

Winter term proved to be a challenging investment climate for the UO EMF team as emerging markets experienced a volatile start to 2014. When classes began in January our benchmark, the MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM) was at $39.57 per share. It subsequently fell to a low of  $37.78 on January 29th before finishing the term with a strong rally, ending at $41.01 on March 31st.  The volatility also affected our portfolio as we followed a similar trend as the EEM, losing value early in the year and recovering as the semester came to a close.

Portfolio

At the beginning of the semester our fund had returned 11.08% for the holding period (12.73% in equities return) versus our benchmarks return of 0.99%. The following shows the makeup of our portfolio at the start of the first week of winter term:

Compare this to our portfolio at the end of the term:

Sector Allocation

The group took steps to better diversify our fund by trying to get a more consistent sector allocation. Although it is difficult for us to invest in financial firms due to regulations in our bylaws, we still wanted to try our best to match our benchmarks sector allocation. Below is a table of both our portfolios weight per sector, as well as our benchmarks weight.

Portfolio Activity

This semester marked one of the first times where our fund was strapped for cash and needed to sell off some of our holdings in order to purchase more stocks. It ended up working out well as many of our updated stocks proved to be overvalued, signaling it was time to sell. This term we sold our holdings in SK Telecom, Sterlite Industries, and Tencent Holdings.

In addition to the stocks we sold, we also added a few stocks to the portfolio this term. This included Melco Crown Entertainment, Infosys Limited ADR, and China Cord Blood Corp.

Stocks that were pitched but didn’t get purchased this term were Ever Groly, BYD, Silicon Motion, Air China, and Gravity.

Be sure to keep checking in to see how our performance is during the spring term!

 

Written by strub@uoregon.edu

Ryan Strub is a second year MBA student in the Finance and Securities Analysis Center. He currently works as an Acquisitions Analyst for ScanlanKemperBard Companies, a Portland based real estate merchant banker. Ryan plans on developing socially responsible communities upon graduation.

Warsaw New York Trip 2014

In mid- January the Warsaw second years and I took off for the annual New York trip. We knew we were in for a long week just by looking at the very full itinerary but we didn’t know we would be doing it all in the Polar Vortex.

The two company visits that I found most interesting were Madison Square Garden and Galatioto Sports Partners. We talk a lot in Doc Howard’s class about the financial side of sports but it is tough get a lot of insight into that side of the industry. This is why meeting with Sal Galatioto, the CEO of Galatioto Sports Partners, was so special. He understanding of sports finances, particularly team sales brokering, is unparalleled.  In addition his candor and attitude was also quite entertaining, especially his dislike (to put it nicely) for soccer.

I really enjoyed MSG because of their non-traditional execution of sponsorship. They don’t overwhelm the concourses with signage and cheesy promotions, they take a much more subtle and organic approach, using a lot of value in kind. I think this approach to sponsorship was refreshing and provides more value to the sponsors while maintaining the clean feel that the prestige of MSG demands.

msg

Another highlight of the trip for me was the alumni networking event. All too often networking events feel too much like a middle school dance with all of the industry folks/alumni grouped together on one side of the room and the students grouped on the other side. The event in New York was not like that and went exactly how it was meant to go. There were alumni from teams, leagues, networks, products, nonprofits and agencies which gave everyone a chance to talk to people in their area of interest.

Advice I would give to first years for both the San Francisco and New York trips is to follow up with any people or companies you find interesting. It is up to you to build these connections and while their presentations are great, it is not going to benefit you in the long run if you don’t put yourself out there. The other advice I have, which I think a lot of people did well in New York, is to leverage your current network before you go and set up meetings with companies you are interested in that you won’t be visiting on the trip. It’s a great chance to meet face to face with companies/ people that you likely won’t get the opportunity to do again before graduation.

A week in 10 degree weather, ice and high heels was enough for me but it was all definitely worth it. Overall I think we got to meet a great group of diverse people in the industry and got a better look into the more technical aspects and challenges of what they do.

Written by hgilliam@uoregon.edu

Hannah is an accelerated Warsaw MBA candidate. She was born and raised in Portland Oregon and completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon.