Alumni

Lights, Camera, Quacktion

This past spring, I had the fun opportunity to be the Oregon IMG_3495MBA “talent” (that’s film lingo, I learned, for actor or actress) in the pilot episode of a web series called Ducks in the Wild for the Oregon MBA Program with alum Guru Khalsa, the Environmental Corporate Responsibility Manager at Columbia Sportswear. To produce a seven-minute video, Guru and I logged over 20 hours of screen time in downtown Portland, at Columbia Sportswear’s headquarters in Beaverton, and in Eugene. The experience was exhausting but highly entertaining. I really hoped the production company would release a blooper reel, but since that doesn’t look promising, I thought I’d share some insider secrets from the set of the webinar.

When you watch the video, one of the first questions you’ll have within the first few minutes is: did Katie bike from Portland to Eugene? I may be athletic, but I’m not that intense. The filming of the opening segment at my Biking UO campus Eugeneapartment in Eugene didn’t actually take place until two weeks after Guru and I wrapped in Portland!

To get the shot of Guru and I biking side by side down the streets of Portland, we had to ride at about 2 MPH behind a small SUV while the cinematographer practically hung out of the back of the moving vehicle. We rode up and down the same straightaway at least 15 times! No wonder Guru reminded me to bring my helmet.

We had to shoot the scene of Guru and I walking into Columbia over 10 times because we kept running into each other, forgetting to stop on our marks, blocking each out from camera view, and forgetting what we were supposed to say!Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.50.10 PM

And yes, I have seen potatoes before. That was one scene I hoped would be in the blooper reel but not the final cut!

I had an absolute blast filming this episode, and also made a wonderful professional connection with Guru. Being one of the Oregon MBA “talents” for the Ducks in the Wild video series, will likely remain one of the highlights of business school.

Check out the full Ducks in the Wild Episode #1 

Written by Katie Clark

Katie is a second year MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Over the summer, Katie worked for Happy Family Brands as the Corporate Social Responsibility Intern, where she managed multiple supply chain projects and provided employee education on topics in sustainability. She hopes to bring this experience and her MBA coursework to a strategic sustainability position in a mission-driven company in the outdoor product or natural foods industry.

Alumni Host MBA’s at San Francisco’s Century Club

After a busy day of business meetings, we had the wonderful opportunity to spend the evening in great company with business leaders at the Century Club in San Francisco, hosted by Mark and Martha Greenough. The evening opened with drinks and appetizers providing ample opportunity to introduce ourselves to our hosts (and other guests) and begin learning more about their various business ventures. The variety of our guests gave us insight into small business management, financial advising, capital investment, entrepreneurial startups, and general business advice.

The evening continued to the dining room where our first course and main course were served over more intimate conversations between the students and our business guests. Topics of conversation ranged from football allegiances to work-life balance and entrepreneurial advice, to name a few. We students were then offered the opportunity to introduce the guests at the table to the entire group, giving everyone a chance to see the great talent, success, and achievements made by those in our company.

As we made our way upstairs for drinks and dessert, Mark Greenough prepared a networking activity to offer additional time for small groups to ask questions and glean as much as we could from our guests before the evening drew to a close. In small groups, we spoke with 2-3 guests about their great achievements, biggest challenges, and highest aspirations. The intimate setting provided for a honest discussion of the highs and lows of business, focusing on how the journey is the exciting part, not the destination.

To say the least, the evening was motivational as we had the honor to hear about real world business success from the mouths of those who achieved it. The variety of personalities and careers afforded us a myriad of examples of what success really looked like and how it could be achieved. As young men and women at the beginning of our career adventures, this dinner provided us a unique look at the paths taken of those who were once in our shoes. The Oregon MBA is grateful for the following guests, especially Mark and Martha for offering us their time, energy, and wisdom:

  • Mark Greenough (Greenough Consulting Group)
  • Martha Greenough (Independent Bookkeeper)
  • Joshua Greenough (Capital One Innovation Center)
  • Brian Connolly (Connolly Advisors)
  • Ben Keighran (Chomp)
  • Lauryn Agnew (Seal Cove Financial)
  • Geoff Dolan (Makani Power)
  • Claire Herminjard (Mindful Meats)
  • Robert Simon (IDC Ventures)
  • Ken Pearlman (Oceanshore Ventures)
  • Eli Janin (Capital One Innovation Center)
  • Bob Komin (TicketFly)

 

Written by Andrew White

Andrew is an MBA Candidate in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. A native of Massachusetts, he came to UO to refine his business skills and build his expertise in the sustainability arena. His primary interest is in helping organizations implement environmentally and socially sustainable strategies for long-term success, and he is a regular participant on many of the MBA intramural sports teams.

CTO Day 3

As we watch San Jose fade in the rearview mirror and close the book on the 2011 Cleantech Open Academy for semi-finalists, a few final thoughts:

  • $ilicon Valley: If California is the world’s 8th leading economy, Silicon Valley is the hub that finances the whole operation. This was my first trip to San Jose, and I was blown away by the access to investment firms aspiring tech (and cleantech) entrepreneurs have. My jaw literally dropped to see double the VC firms in one block than likely exist in the Portland Metro area. It was amazing.
  • Raves: Congratulations to Christina Ellwood and company for pulling off an amazing Cleantech Open Academy. Ellwood and a mostly volunteer crew slogged away at a daunting Academy schedule with discipline and flair … not an easy balance, for sure. Yes, there were snags along the way, but most of these were balanced out with Ellwood’s command of the stage and improvisational skills and a never-say-die team that worked like the dickens in the background. The speaker set was fantastic. Leading local professionals and educators in finance, patent law, and marketing offered semi-finalists great (and FREE) advice. But as an MBA grad, it was the headliners that blew me away: Steve Blank and Randy Komisar, in particular, were superb.
  • Rants: To some extent, the Academy is held hostage by its own objective to get every participant ready to compete in the next round. The conference schedule was brutal—8 a.m. to 7 p.m. with an hour-and-change in breaks. Even though I generally got something out of every session, some flexibility for our group to pick and choose what we felt we needed would have been nice. Let’s face it: The vast majority of these sessions (speaker & PPT format) could have been done virtually (Think: A green alternative!). Instead, more focus on facilitating valuable mentor meetings and connections between attendees would have been nice. Finally, I know the world of the entrepreneur is fluid, but that sort of hour-to-hour uncertainty shouldn’t carry over to the conference. Even a basic timeline of the schedule was hard to get in advance and technical miscues made it challenging to follow workshop activities. I realize speakers may cancel last minute, but the general backbone of the show should always be in place.
  • What Now? Paul, Ihab, and I will be trying our darnedest to make it to the regional finals where only three lucky teams will move on to nationals in the fall. The challenge will be enormous. (Did I mention that we need to find a customer?), but we have a plan we think will help see us through: Talk to lots and lots of people—there has to be a buyer in there somewhere.

– Doug Anderson, MBA ’11

You can follow Doug, Paul, and Innovative Invironments team in their Cleantech Open experience on Twitter @douglassander.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final installment in the series of blog posts that followed two Oregon MBA graduates from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices as they participated in the semi-final round of the Cleantech Open 2011 to commercialize the SolarStream™ Awning System.

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

CTO Day 2: Go Lean, Go Now!

Business plans in aspiring ventures are amazingly fluid things. In five minutes, a team discussion can turn what was essential strategy on its head.

Steve Blank, lean start-up guru and author of “Four Steps to the Epiphany,” said entrepreneurs are visionaries in search of prospective customers who get it. But here’s the rub: There’s a fine line between being a visionary and the local nut. Some start-up founders (not to mention VCs) are stunned when the customers they designed a product or service for eschew it. Sales are flat. Heads roll. The business tanks.

What investors and founders don’t realize, says Blank, is that the start-up process is actually iterative. The problem with spending countless hours building and refining a business plan for entrepreneurs is that they start to believe the assumptions they build into it are the gospel truth—something infallible.

Photo: A San Jose building that could benefit from the Solar Awning

This San Jose office complex looks like it could use a SolarStream Awning

Says Blank: “No business plan survives first contact with customers.”

It’s not the first customers—the group the product was actually designed for—who often end up being the most valuable target market, said Blank. To find out who the most likely customer would be, organizations have to get out of the office and canvas the prospects. When you begin talking to people consistently, plans change—regularly.

Inspired by Blank’s “do-it-now!” attitude, our team made two executives decisions: First, we decided to scrap fund-raising altogether. (More on that momentarily.) Next, we decided to take an extended lunch.

No offense to the fine organizers of the Cleantech Open Academy, but opting to bootstrap means we need a customer—desperately. And being we felt our optimal target customer would be the owner of a three-to-four-story office building (San Jose is a giant, continuous business park), we wanted to get started that day. No, we didn’t start knocking doors, but we did take a lot of pictures of buildings we felt would be perfect candidates for the SolarStream Awning, so that we could later superimpose the product on these images … then knock doors.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big step, but it actually may be the first one in prepping to nail down that first customer—whoever he or she may be. Ultimately, we decided we’re not a good fit for VC or even angel capital, especially now: We’re just too busy figuring out who wants to buy.

– Doug Anderson, MBA ’11

You can follow Doug, Paul, and Innovative Invironments team in their Cleantech Open experience on Twitter @douglassander.

Editor’s Note: This is the third in the series of blog posts that will follow two Oregon MBA graduates from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices as they participate in the semi-final round of the Cleantech Open 2011 to commercialize the SolarStream™ Awning System.

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Clean Tech Open, Day 1 – MBA education validated

I suspect that what is on the mind of pending U of O MBA students, current, and recent graduated is if the education received is relevant and valid.  Well I can say, after the first day of the Cleantech Open Academy, the answer to that question is a resounding YES!

Paul Clark, UO MBA, at Clean Tech Open, July 2011After getting over the awkward start of once again trying to define sustainability within a room of entrepreneurs dedicated to developing sustainable and green products and services, we got off to a shocking start with the announcement that business plans are obsolete!  This of course is not a shock to many of us, who have traveled down the road to entrepreneurship, be it in the Venture Start-up program within the University, or out there on our own.  But for many in the room such a statement seems like heresy.   The dogma out there, when looking to raise money, is that you need a business plan, and I suspect that for many of the competitors in the Cleantech Open, they had the impression that the whole purpose  of this event is to write a winning business plan.

That is not the case for this competition.   What they want from all of us is not a plan, but a solid business.  In the past this competition had focused a great amount of energy in creating a solid business plan, but now they say investors are even not interested in reading them.  Over the next several weeks, with the help of our assigned mentor, we are going to walk through a process that creates a compelling and engaging executive summary, and 10 slide PowerPoint presentation, and 10 worksheets.  This body of work will be what we are judged on later in the Fall.

So with that cat out of the bag, the real work of this Academy got underway.  Randy Komisar, author of the Monk and the Riddle, and Getting to Plan B, launched us into a conversation about the importance of failure as a learning tool, and pointing out that our first customer in not going to be our planned customer (thus the irrelevance of the business plan), thus the need for a plan B.  Not that a plan B is once again something that your “plan” for thus write into your business plan, but have a built in process to test all the assumptions you are making when creating your business model.  And let’s not kid ourselves, new venture planning is all about making assumptions; sometimes stacking assumptions upon assumptions, and this is what makes the business plan irrelevant.

With these plan B strategies in mind, we then headed down the road of customer selection.  The main theme here – “get out of the building.”  It is not unusual for a start-up venture to be founded upon a brilliant idea, dredged deep from the mind of the inventor.  However an idea is rarely robust enough to become a viable business.  There has to be a customer that is hungry for the idea, sees the value of the idea, AND has the ability to pay for the solution.  The best way to evaluate the market validity of your business idea is to show it to potential customers, but to make this a more efficient process, have a clear understanding of the value your idea has to your potential customer.

With face-to-face time with real customers they will tell you if your assumptions about value are real, and if they are not, hopefully they can tell you what they value, and your plan B mentality can kick in.   A formal business plan is too static to capture this important process, thus the need to build in flexibility and a focus on developing a process to form your business model.

So with all this being said, at the end of the day, we still don’t have an exact indication of the contents of those 10 pending worksheets, but if I was to give my best guess, I have a feeling that they will be looking for detailed information about how we know our customer and how we are confident that our product offering is a very profitable match to this customer’s need.  This will be the contents of our Cleantech  “business plan,” and competition aside, this will be a very powerful go-forward strategy.

So all said and done, a business plan will still be created, but we are going to approach its creation in a completely different way.  At the end of the day, the mantra was this: Think Big, Start Small, and Move Fast.  Big ideas brought us here.  Now we have to go out there and find that first viable customer, and waste no time adapting  and learning from them.  This same mantra applies to the U of O MBA studies.  We are well prepared to make it happen, even in a green, clean way!

– Paul Clark, MBA ‘11

You can follow Doug, Paul, and Innovative Invironments team in their Cleantech Open experience on Twitter @douglassander.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in the series of blog posts that will follow two Oregon MBA graduates from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices as they participate in the semi-final round of the Cleantech Open 2011 to commercialize the SolarStream™ Awning System

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Freedom Feels Good on the Fourth of July

It has been about a month since I donned my graduation attire, and the feeling of freedom from homework, exams, and term papers is now settling in.  “These two years of the MBA will go by quick,” said most everyone I talked to before packing up my truck and moving across the country.  They were right.  Now it’s time for another entrance into my craft and career, and a new class of Ducks will fill the classrooms in Lillis to learn about strategy, finance, operations, and the many other areas of business I studied throughout my days in grad school.

Before I sign off and turn in my keys, however, I get to write my last blog.  I won’t use it to push for overhauls of our tax code, de-regulations of our industries, or any other MBA jargon-filled topics.  I’d just like to take this time to say thank you, so long, and fare-thee-well.  This past year I served as the Marketing Graduate Teaching Fellow inside the Lundquist College of Business, and it was an awesome opportunity to share the stories of the college, our cohort, and the experience with all of you.  I hope that you now know a bit more about us, and I’m sure that your understanding of what it means to be a Duck inside the Oregon MBA is much more clear if you read the blogs and watch the videos we produce.

The best part of this particular blog, by far, is that I get to introduce you to the next Marketing Graduate Teaching Fellow.  His name is Tashi, and I know he’s going to come in here and take things to the next level.  At this point I want to pass the reins over to him, but I look forward to staying a part of the Ducks’ family for years to come.  So, make sure to stay tuned for Tashi’s turn at the helm, and look for me in Portland as I wander the streets in search of a pizza shop that can fill my cravings for Track Town.

Take care and Go Ducks!

Nate Kalaf | Oregon MBA ’11
Founder, Tall Palms Creative

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Athlete/Entrepreneur’s Big Win

Who is this guy?” was the question on everyone’s lips when first-year pro triathlete Jesse Thomas came out of nowhere to win this year’s prestigious Avia Wildflower Triathlon with a time of 4:04:45. Folks at the Lundquist College of Business knew Thomas as a 2009 graduate of the school’s MBA program in the sports marketing track with a secondary concentration in entrepreneurship. After graduating, Thomas put off his job search to follow his dream of becoming a professional athlete. Still, Thomas kept at least one foot in the business world by starting Leap Day Consulting, which offers small-business and product development consulting. When two-time U.S. 5K champion Lauren Fleshman–who also happens to be married to Thomas–started a line of dairy- and gluten-free energy bars, Thomas became a cofounder and the company’s CEO. Needless to say, with so much going on the athlete/entrepreneur has found some unique strategies for maintaining work-life balance. Find out how he does it in the video below.

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.

Homecoming Weekend

This year’s Homecoming brought out many of the best of the Warsaw family. Over 40 alumni joined Jim Warsaw and current students in Eugene to reconnect with old friends and to watch the Ducks take on the UCLA Bruins.

As part of the activity-packed weekend, current students were treated to a morning-side panel of alums who shared their successes and career path experiences and gave MBA students the opportunity to ask questions. To start off the discussion, Founder of the Warsaw Center, James (Jim) Warsaw greeted students and alumni.

For many in attendance, it was their first time meeting Jim and after only a few words of wisdom, they quickly realized how amazing an individual he is. Jim welcomed the returning alumni and expressed his gratitude to them for their support and friendship. To the current students, he spoke  with excitement for the coming years ahead and gave inspiring thoughts to guide them as they pursue their degrees. 

Jim Warsaw, founder of the University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center with several Warsaw Alumni, friends and current students.

Jim Warsaw, founder of the University of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center with several Warsaw Alumni, friends and current students.

For those who were able to shake his hand, they felt it was truly an honor to talk to him, “He seems like everyone’s best friend,” said Miriam Oh, Class of 2010. “He is respected and admired not only because of what he has accomplished, but because of the amazing person that he is.”

Eric, Johnny, Howard, Colin, Miriam, BJ at the game. You can't tell, but we are freezing!

Eric, Johnny, Howard, Colin, Miriam, BJ at the game. You can't tell, but we are freezing!

Following the panel discussion, everyone made their way to the stadium for a tailgate organized by the Warsaw Center where alumni reconnected with old friends and students mingled with alumni.

At game time, the sky was clear and the air was warm, but as the night wore on, the temperatures took a dip and turned unusually cold. Many of the students and alumni stuck it out to the end despite the frigid temperatures and watched the Ducks beat the Bruins, 31-21. Go Ducks!

Homecoming weekend was full of activity and the Warsaw Center made it the perfect opportunity for students past and present to connect and reconnect. It was a great time had by all!

The Warsaw tailgate at Homecoming.

Alumni and friends in the Warsaw tailgate tent.

 
Ken and Mike, ie, the welcoming committee.

Ken Salmon and Mike Mosser: The welcoming committee.

Shi-Mu Huang meets Jim for the first time.

Shi-Mu Huang meets Jim for the first time.

Neil Young doing "O!!!!"

Neil Young cheering on the Ducks. "O!!!"

Written by grimstad@uoregon.edu

Senior Honors Business Student

A tough, but fun week…

Well it’s been a little while since I last wrote, but how many times do you want to hear me say how busy we are? This week it seemed like school finally got serious (quizzes, papers, presentations, etc.) and midterms are right around the corner. Oh well, there’s been plenty of fun stuff going on too…

Softball has been covered, so I’ll start with Alumni weekend, also known as last Saturday. I started the day with coed bball with some classmates (where I destroyed my ankle) and then went to a panel discussion with two alums, one who runs the marketing for the World Series of Poker and another who heads up the Atlanta branch of Relay Sports. They were informal and informative and set the tone for a good evening of brats, beer, and meeting alumni at the Warsaw tailgate. After that I hobbled (because of the ankle, not the beer) over to the game against UCLA (where are the pics, MOH?). The game was very cold,  but it “iced” my ankle and the Ducks won.

And then it was time to study…yada…yada…yada…and play intramurals (basketball good, football no comment) and see another guest speaker: the agent for 10 NFL starting QB’s (amongst others) David Dunn. And now the class week is almost over and we’ve got a bunch of students headed to Portland for some business up there. I’m staying here and will have the privilege of attending another group panel with a couple people from Nike and Adidas. Then it’s the big OMBAA camping trip on Saturday…and unfortunately a lot more studying, which I’ll try not to mention next time.

Written by grimstad@uoregon.edu

Senior Honors Business Student

Alumni On the Move

Having just come off the annual Warsaw Alumni Football Weekend we have been reminded just how fortunate the Warsaw Center has been to attract great students and see them go on to be successful in the industry. As part of the blog’s continuing effort to keep you up to date on the latest alumni news, here’s the latest news on one of our alums taing on his first stint as athletic director. Vince joins fellow Warsaw alum Matt English who was just recently named Athletic Director at Concordia in Portland.

Written by grimstad@uoregon.edu

Senior Honors Business Student