Seattle

Green is the New Black

What do a clothing retailer and a premium chocolatier have in common? A lot more than I thought!

On the Oregon MBA’s recent experiential learning trip to Seattle, I got to see two very different businesses both using environmental responsibility to grow their bottom line—Green Eileen through post-consumer product responsibility and Theo Chocolate through supply chain management.

For the first visit, we headed south to Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood looking for the west coast retail outlet of Green Eileen–Eileen Fisher’s “recycled clothing initiative.” The Green Eileen arm collects, processes, and sells already worn Eileen Fisher clothing in excellent condition—called “seconds” by Green Eileen. I was expecting the store to feel and look like a second hand store, but it has a boutique, spa-chic feeling and features a revolving dry cleaning rack that adds an industrial design element to their inventory display.

Green Eileen TourWe met with Megan Arnaud, Retail Leader in Seattle, who shared her impressive depth of knowledge about the overall corporate responsibility mission of Eileen Fisher. She acknowledged, “We are a teeny tiny tip of an incredibly big iceberg,” within the overall clothing industry, but “we feel a responsibility for the whole lifecycle” of their products. Eileen Fisher is not only committed to environmental responsibility, but are also using their “seconds” to open a new sales market. The Green Eileen model serves as a new, more effective, way to reach a younger market segment—a demographic Eileen Fisher would like to reach, but currently doesn’t have in its traditional customer base.

Over in the Green Eileen recycling center in a very cool old warehouse in the SODO area of Seattle, we met Patty Liu, Recycling Program Leader at Green Eileen. It was impossible not to get excited as she drove home the possibilities inherent in thinking nimbly about dealing with Eileen Fisher “seconds.”  Through the Green Eileen store, pop-up sales at the recycling center warehouse, and planned expansions to factory stores and internet sales, Green Eileen is reaching previously untapped demand for high quality, sustainable fashion from a younger market segment. By embracing the challenge to internalize responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, they have started to create a new market for both their product and their mission. Patty shared, “You really have to invest and believe in what you’re doing to drive other people to see value.”

Theo Chocolate TourLater in the afternoon, across town in the Fremont neighborhood, we piled out of the van into the Theo Chocolate Factory and outfitted ourselves with hairnets and beardnets to begin a tour inside the closest thing any of us will ever come to Willy Wonka’s factory. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, funny, and generous with the chocolate samples as we learned Theo’s history and current supply chain processes and commitments. Feeling worlds away from the retail fashion world, I nonetheless started hearing a very similar story from what we had heard in the morning—taking environmental and social responsibility for your product can help you reach whole new market segments and grow your bottom line. While Green Eileen is focused on Eileen Fisher’s post-consumer product responsibility, at Theo, their focus is on supply chain responsibility.

Theo uses both direct interaction and third party certification to ensure social and environmental responsibility at every single step of its supply chain. Of their suppliers, our tour guide explained, “People want to work with us because there’s the immediate benefit of people making more money,” due to the higher price premium fair trade and organic ingredients command. On the customer side, Theo enjoys a price premium compared to conventional chocolate bars, but tries to keep the price point at a level that is accessible for people to treat themselves.

MBA Seattle trip 2016The biggest take away from the day (besides the six pounds of chocolate samples I ate throughout the tour) was a reinforced appreciation for social and environmental sustainability as a powerful business tool to drive both mission-related impacts AND a company’s bottom line. Despite the competitive advantage both companies enjoy from their practices, it was energizing to hear both companies’ desires to share the lessons and tools they’ve found along the way with others in their industries. In Patti’s words, “Do I hope other companies will see what we’re doing and try to do it, too?  Well, yeah!!”

 

 

Written by Kate Hammarback

Kate is a 2017 MBA/MPA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Originally from Wisconsin, Kate graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with a political science degree and spent time working in state and national politics before pivoting to nonprofit resource and program development. Kate is an active member of LiveMove and Net Impact and is happiest when working at the intersection of policy, planning, and business development through social and sustainable enterprise. After graduation, she plans to work where she can use finance and sustainability strategy to impact the triple bottom line.

Cameron Center takes on Seattle

One of the major components of the Oregon MBA experience is the experiential learning trips. Every term, our academic classes shut their doors, and students venture out to metropolitan areas across the country and the world. We visit cities like Seattle, New York, Shanghai, San Francisco, and Portland, to meet with top executives and recent alumni in the field. The purpose of these excursions is for students to experience real world applications of the academic theories we are learning in the classroom. These trips also serves as a major networking tool that garnish connections that continue on well beyond the MBA program.

Seattle skylineThis past week, all first year MBA students had the opportunity to travel to Seattle, Washington and engage with top executives from companies such as Microsoft, Milepost Consulting, D. A. Davidson, and REI.

For me, one of the highlights of the Seattle trip was the key industry and career insights provided by top executives in the finance industry. Due to the small size of the Cameron Center for Finance and Security Analysis, we were able to sit around the board room table with Seattle’s financial giants and speak candidly about issues that were important to each one of us. These topics ranged from sports to hedging future currency rates to how each of these top executives started their careers. These open conservations were immensely valuable because they provided us the knowledge and motivation that will guide us through the MBA program to internships and careers.

Oregon MBAs in SeattleThe Seattle trip was my first opportunity to see how the city stacked up against the other major cities. Born and raised outside of Dallas, Texas, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel much of the United States and abroad. But until coming to the Oregon MBA program, I had never ventured to the Pacific Northwest. So besides getting an excellent education at the University of Oregon, I am also test driving the region to see if I would want to eventually make it my home, and Seattle exceeded expectation. Between the food, the cultural diversity, the career opportunities, the breath taking scenery, and the genuine kind-hearted nature of the people that we got to meet, the city of Seattle has now been added to the list of cities that I could call home.

 

Written by Alex C. Bibb

Alex is a 2017 MBA in the Cameron Center for Finance and Security Analysis. He started his career in the financial development career field by helping lower-income households and communities gain access to financial services. Upon graduation, Alex hopes to continue this work by bridging the gap between the traditional financial world and economic depressed areas.

How the Net Impact “Game On” Conference was a Game Changer

 

Chelsea Clinton at NI15For first year MBA students interested in sustainable business practices, the Net Impact Conference is a must have experience. The Net Impact Conference gives a well-rounded view of how sustainable business practices function in the real world and how a shift towards sustainability can alleviate many economic and social plights the world currently REI Opt Outsidefaces. In addition to the outstanding networking and career search opportunities, the Chelsea Clinton, Jerry Stritzke (REI), Cliff Burrows (Starbucks), and Daniel Lubetsky (KIND Snacks).

 

A favorite session among the Oregon MBAs was “Conservation Finance: Investing in Nature at Scale,” led by Joe Whitworth and Oregon Alum David Chen. David Chen is the CEO of Equilibrium Capital, a firm, “that David Chenbuilds sustainability-driven real assets investment strategies, funds, and products that generate institutional-quality returns and scale to investors”. The session was a mixture of lecture and group workshop that allowed us to learn from Whitworth and Chen, tackle problems they presented, and then receive feedback to the solutions our teams brainstormed. Most exciting for me, was the ability for Whitworth and Chen to fuse monetary value and conservation into a package which both provides return for investors and measurable ecosystem services.

 

One of the most compelling sessions that I attended was put on by CollaborateUp, a consulting firm that aims to bring people and companies together to solve big problems. In the workshop, “Nourshing 9 Billion Challenge: Planting the STEM in Food,” groups of 5 were teamed with an expert from Google, Monsanto, or Starbucks and pitted against each other to find solutions for integrating science, technology, engineering, and math education (STEM) into resolutions for feeding the planet. My team was composed of industry professionals, MBA students from all over the United States, and Mary Wagner, a Senior Vice President at Starbucks. This workshop reminded me of Sports Matters Panel at NI15the work we do at the Oregon MBA and reinforced my satisfaction with my choice and my cohort. Much like the Oregon MBA, my team had educational and cultural diversity that, paired with the expertise of Mary, aided in a strong presentation of our final solution.

 

Net Impact Conference 2015 SeattleThe Net Impact Conference was my first opportunity to see first-hand how sustainability initiatives and business come together. As a biologist with virtually no prior business education or experience, it is reassuring to see that social and environmental problems are becoming a top priority for many companies. These shifts in priorities are exciting and meaningful. The work being done by many innovative thinkers and practitioners are successfully creating shared value solutions that are more profitable than their archaic counterparts. The conference gave new insights into the types of careers available for sustainable business MBA’s and instilled in me a whole new perspective in creatively solving some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental matters.

Written by Eric Parsons

Parsons is a biologist with hospital-lab and field-research experience looking to integrate sustainability into mainstream corporations. Most recently, he served as a field technician for the Belize Raptor Research Institute and performed a study on migrating neotropical raptors. In that role, he identified migrating raptors, produced reports analyzing daily activities and assisted with public outreach. Through the Oregon MBA, Parsons plans to develop the skills necessary to integrate conservation biology with corporate sustainability programs to create value for the business and protect the environment. After graduation, he plans to create sustainability initiatives for companies with interests in neotropical regions or healthcare.

Sunny in Seattle? Only when we arrive!

The past week (week 3 of our 10 week terms) allowed the first year students from the Finance, Sustainability, and Entrepreneurship Centers to travel to Seattle, WA. This was a first time to the city for many individuals but for me it was a pleasant return to familiarity. I lived in Seattle for 4 years right after undergraduate and it was amazing to see how the city has changed since I left in 2010. Our faculty set up some great meetings with companies throughout the area covering addressing all of our various interests. It was great to join the first years on this trip because I could compare it to my trip last year. While some visitations were the same, many were not.

While the focus of these trips is experiential learning and getting out of the classroom, that does not mean we are all work! Our first night in Seattle was a party to great times at the Rhein Haus. German food, beer, and some very competitive games of bocce ball helped the cohort further strengthen the bonds of camaraderie. I think that spending this time with your classmates is just as important as visiting companies.

Our first day of company visits started with an extended time spent up at Microsoft. Since it is such a large and leading company, we were able to cover multiple areas of the business including finance, Microsoft ventures and support of the start-up world, their internal and external sustainability efforts, and marketing. The final marketing panel was different from my previous visit and it was unique in that it allowed us to ask people what it was really like to work at Microsoft. Seeing how people from various (i.e. non-computer science) backgrounds have found their place in a tech/computer company is definitely an eye opener for many students.   We then continued down to T-Mobile (for the LCE and CSBP) and Wells Fargo (FSAC). For a company going through a serious re-brand, T-Mobile provided some interesting perspective into a very competitive and complex telecommunications industry. We wrapped up the day at the Woodland Park Zoo. While we didn’t have a chance to wander around the zoo and see the animals (who doesn’t like zoo animals after all?), we did get to see a business area that is in need of highly skilled MBA graduates and who face many of the same challenges as traditional business: non-profits. In many cases, non-profits have greater challenges to overcome n order to generate the same type of revenue as other companies.

Our second day was just a filled as the first with visits to McKinstry, Amazon, UBS (FSAC), We Work, and the Bullitt Center. The day began, however, with a breakfast meeting with Threshold and the newly created Canopy group. It was one of the few meetings where finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainability all interconnected in one company. Rather than talk to each focus individually, the Canopy Group had a hard time separating the three strands. It was a great spin on a growing field. After a great breakfast we toured McKinstry. The group then split with Finance doing financial things and the rest doing sustainable and entrepreneurial things. Our visits to Amazon and We Work in South Lake Union were amazing! I used to live in that area, so seeing how the neighborhood has transformed since 2010 was mind blowing to me. Our day then ended at the Bullitt Center—a definite highlight from previous years.

Our last day was mostly travel but we were able to allow students time to organize their own meetings. While this can be challenging, if Seattle is a place you want to work, meeting people where they are can be a great benefit for future connections. I spent the time reconnecting with individuals and making sure everyone was where they needed to be. On the way home we made a slight detour to REI headquarters in Kent and had a great discussion with finance and marketing individuals. Since REI embraces many of the unique aspects of the programs at the Oregon MBA, there could be no better company to end our whirlwind tour.

I love Seattle and I really enjoyed being able to spend time with the first year students. Being able to travel and meet with companies beyond the canned student presentation is one thing that makes the Oregon MBA a great place to study.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Starbucks Wows Students in Seattle

First year CSBP student Eric Ringer chronicles an outstanding visit to Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.

One of the great things about the Oregon MBA program is the amazing trips we take to see business leaders in action. We really know how to leverage our student status around here to open doors that aren’t even cracked for the average person. This weekend the CSBP and LCE first years drove up I-5 to Seattle, home of Starbucks, REI, Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, among many others.  We visited with businesses as diverse as a motor boat company, venture capitalists, geocachers, and coffee fiends.

While each stop had its nuggets of wisdom, the conversation we had with the great folks at Starbucks was my favorite. As someone who moved to the Pacific Northwest for its position in sustainability leadership I loved hearing about the complex issues Starbucks faces on a global scale and what they are doing to use their size for good.

As soon as we entered the gigantic 4 million square foot headquarters (it takes up about 3 square blocks) it felt like we had just walked into a Starbucks ad. Stylish people were casually scattered in comfy chairs lost in conversation, coffee cup in hand and smiling genuinely. It seemed like Starbucks truly was an enjoyable place to work. We strolled past the expert quality checkers that swish sip after sip of brewed coffee to ensure each batch of coffee beans coming through is of consistent quality, photographers strategically positioning products in a studio to get just the right light for the new ad, and the innovation room where employees can sign up to taste and provide feedback on new product ideas, both good and bad.

We landed in a conference room where we met with Jim Hanna, Director of Environmental Affairs, and OMBA alum Mark Brown, Director of Operation Support Services and Project Management. Jim made a big impact on me when he discussed the common topic of making the business case for sustainability. He covered a lot of the major reasons for incorporating sustainability into decision making: reduces operations costs, mitigates environmental risks, greater customer loyalty, larger share of emerging market, negotiating tool with policy makers, impacts the brand “halo”, prouder employees that stick around, and impacts on license to operate. But what struck me most was his position on the triple bottom line. Jim emphasized to us that for all business, the number one priority is to earn a profit. You can’t survive without it. The legs of social and environmental responsibility are incorporated into the profit column, they aren’t separate and conflicting priorities. Treating employees and customers with respect leads to loyalty and a better product. Considering the impacts of your operations and supply chain on the environment and mitigating risk allows you to continue to function as efficiently as possible to make a profit. With that mind set, sustainability becomes a competitive advantage.

Jim also highlighted a couple initiatives Starbucks is implementing that embody their values.

  • LEED Construction- every building they construct, including stores, is LEED certified. While this does not include stores that already exist because it is more environmentally damaging to gut a perfectly good building, they have additional efforts to reduce energy consumption in those stores.
  • C.A.F.E. Practices- currently 85% of Starbucks coffee beans come from farms that follow Starbucks’ Coffee and Farmer Equity program (C.A.F.E.). C.A.F.E. is a set of guidelines that help their farmers grow coffee in a way that’s better for both people and the planet. You can read more about it here. Starbucks’ goal is to have 100% participation in the program.

The most relevant piece of advice Jim communicated to us is that a lot of students coming out of school eager to make a positive impact through sustainability equate passion with experience. He assured us that they are not the same and that all organizations need employees with skills in specific areas such as marketing, finance, and operations as well as technical skills from science and engineering backgrounds. If businesses are trying to incorporate sustainability principles into all decision-making processes then the decision-makers better be equipped with the skills necessary to make those decisions. Passion alone won’t cut it.

Finally, Jim and Mark confirmed the belief I have that led me to the Oregon MBA program. Of the three organizations essential for a thriving society, business, NGO, and government, business has the greatest potential for impact in this world. To live up to that potential we have to take the skills we have and turn the language from “How can we meet our sustainability goals?” to “I can help you meet that goal through sustainability.” Sustainability is not a separate branch of a business, it is a better way of operation that infiltrates all aspects of a business.

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.

Starting in Seattle with Boats, Fruits, and Phones

Last week, first year students from the BII (the combination of the Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Centers) traveled to Seattle for several days of business visits, and a bit of networking as well. Here, Mike Hatchadorian (CSBP, Class of 2014) provides a quick rundown of the first day of the trip…
Day one in Seattle provided a pretty packed schedule with a diverse group of companies and experiences. We began the day by meeting with Jensen Motorboats. Jensen is a family owned and operated full-service boatyard that was established in 1927 by Tony Jensen. With over 85 years of experience, the company is the oldest boat builder in the Seattle area, and a great deal of their success can be attributed to the emphasis placed on customer relationships. Throughout our time on the dock, our hosts continually mentioned the importance of working with customers and understanding their needs in order to achieve long term success.
Next on the agenda was Harold J Barrett Company, a frozen fruit broker. The folks at HJB highlighted the concept of trends, and explained that running a business, regardless of industry, will always require managers to identify these themes, and adapt to capitalize on them in order to keep up with, or outpace competitors.
The last meeting of our first day afforded us the opportunity to meet with the corporate sustainability team at T-Mobile. The team spoke to us about making the business case for sustainability in a large multi-national corporation, and how important it is to justify changes in terms of operational efficiency and cost-savings. This concept is something that we heard throughout the week, and have discussed at length in Mike Russo’s Sustainable Business class as well.
Ultimately, everything in business comes down to dollars and cents, even when organizations have the best of intentions. Fortunately, instead of hearing how often things “just don’t fit” into a corporate model, we were presented with examples of how great sustainability can be for improving firm performance and morale. Overall, we had a great day with a wide array of perspectives presented!

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.

Myth busted!

Emerald City Green: Sustainable Seattle

What did you learn on the CSBP trip to Seattle?

Well, to sum it up:

It’s ok to not give customers a choice, problem solving need not result in an answer, utilize the word “opportunity” whenever possible, even non-tree huggers can green their business, tapping into behavior is important, big companies have the capacity to do big things, and it doesn’t need to be “either-or.”

Our trip started and ended with a train ride from Eugene to Seattle and back again- by far the best way to travel.  Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel and dropped off our bags so we could head over to our first visit of the trip – Safeco Field.

Just a standard Seattle building

The  VP of Operations, Scott Jenkins, gave us an overview of many of the sustainability initiatives the field has undertaken from LED lighting retrofits to smart monitoring of the grow lights for the grass to an 81% diversion of waste from the landfill.  When asked how they managed such a huge reduction the answer was simple, don’t give people a choice.  Safeco Field has a lot of influence over what their vendors serve food on/in and was able to switch completely to compostables.  As far as the consumer buy-in and understanding, well, they just took out the trashcans and left the compost and recycling bins – why complicate things? For more on our visit to Safeco, check out the post from esteemed CSBP colleague and baseball nut,  Andrew White.

On the second day we woke up early to get ready for our trips to Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, and Costco.  At Microsoft, Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist, and Josh Henretig, Director of MARCOM, described to us the beginning of their sustainability initiatives as “well intentioned chaos” and went on to explain the importance of frameworks.  Microsoft strives to solve problems in an effort to demonstrate how problems can be solved – their goal is to provide scalable, leveragable solutions, not one-hit wonders.

Alaska Airlines gave us a chance to explore the insides of a plane and learn that even a self-admitted non-green company can make substantial improvements to their carbon footprint.  Jacqueline Drumheller taught us the key steps she took in leading change from the middle, some of which were: don’t ask for permission, tackle the metrics, relentless communication, and use the word “opportunity” all the time.

Costco, our final stop of the day, left us feeling a bit differently than our previous meetings.  Costco has been participating in cost reduction activities that have been successful both financially and environmentally.  Their “sustainability” program is really a set of fortuitous outcomes from their business practices and the company shows minimal interest in trying to educate or promote more sustainable decisions to their consumers (consumers who consume and consume by their very nature).  Yet, even a company with no warm and fuzzy tree-hugger-world-saving image is still having a positive impact.  Whether it’s about feeling good or about the bottom line, there is still a case for sustainability.  When it really comes down to it, that’s what we’re in school to learn about: how to make the case for each and every business – how to speak their language.

Day three started with McKinstry, an innovative consulting/engineering/building firm where Hendrik Van Hemert, an Oregon MBA alumni, stressed the importance of fitting sustainability into each individual client’s business in ways that make sense.  Turns out President Obama is also a fan, for more check out CSBPer and former Seattleite Andy Fenstermacher’s post on McKinstry. We also toured their shop and production facilities and were able to get a glimpse of innovative building practices – by building in the warehouse and then inserting finished “components” (which are really the guts of the building) at the work site the company is able to a) make a better product (due to the controlled environment) and b) reduce its waste through reuse and recycling.

Next stop was Starbucks, arguably the most engaging meeting of the trip.  Jim Hanna, the Director of Environmental Impact, invited us to bring any questions, and more importantly criticisms, right out into the open, framing this meeting as an equal opportunity for us to learn from Starbucks and also for Starbucks to learn from us.  The company’s goal is to use their scale for good and outlined some of their initiatives from their C.A.F.E practices which reward coffee farmers for sustainable farming to an entire lighting retrofit throughout the entire U.S. store base.  And of course, we couldn’t leave without talking about the cups.  Well good news, they’re working on it, but from a society-wide systems approach and not a “let’s throw some compostables out there that will end up in the trash anyways but at least we look good” standpoint.

Our last visit of the trip was to REI to learn about their successful initiatives and ambitious goals.  For a company whose very nature is to value the outdoors it seems sustainability is a no-brainer.  While some of their initiatives are more readily accomplished as their employees and clientele do not need much convincing, the company has still had to navigate its way through frameworks, metrics and measurements to set goals that are truly impactful to their business.  One important point that Kevin Hagen made to us is that sustainability does not need to be a trade off between doing what’s right and doing what’s advantageous financially- ‘it doesn’t have to be an “either-or,” it can be an “and.”’

We wrapped up the trip with the opening game of the Seattle Mariners right back at Safeco Field where we started and had the opportunity to see their efforts in action.

So, it was just another few days at the OMBA participating in an experiential learning excursion to visit with chief managers of some of the top companies in the nation.  What does your MBA program offer?? 😉

— Shannon Oliver, CSBP Class of 2013

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.

Emerald City Green: McKinstry

Our second day in Seattle started off with a trip to McKinstry, located in the city’s SODO industrial neighborhood. McKinstry is one of those companies that is difficult to summarize in a simple sentence. They describe themselves as a “full-service design, build, operate and maintain (DBOM) firm.” In other words, they do just about everything that pertains to buildings. The 1,600 people that work at McKinstry comprise a unique mixture of people not often seen in a single company – engineers, strategists, skilled laborers, and others working together under one roof (though, in reality, the company is so large it has quite a few roofs on its campus).

The core of McKinstry’s work focuses on building systems and energy-related issues. During our visit we learned that McKinstry made a strategic decision to diversify its capabilities in order to adapt to market cycles and external economic conditions. When the construction industry is highly active, the company provides design services for major projects and manufacturers HVAC systems. When the market cools down, McKinstry helps its clients plan for future projects or improve the efficiency of their existing buildings.

During our visit we were hosted by Henrik Van Hemert, a 2011 alumnus of the Oregon CSBP program. Henrik shared how he ended up at McKinstry after completing his degree and what it has been like to work in a company largely dominated by engineers, laborers, and other non-MBAs. It served as a good reminder that our freshly acquired business skills can be valuable in just about any context and that we shouldn’t be afraid to cast our job-search nets widely.

The name McKinstry may sound familiar to some. During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-candidate Obama visited the company and mentioned their energy work in one of his ads:

 

— Andy Fenstermacher, CSBP Class of 2012

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.

Take me out to the ballgame....

Emerald City Green: SafeCo Field

During our recent trip to Seattle, we had the opportunity to visit SafeCo Field, the home of Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners, an organization committed to sustainable operations, as evidenced by their decision to become a charter member of the Green Sports Alliance. Scott Jenkins, the Vice President of Operations, was our host for the afternoon, and gave us a fantastic tour of the stadium. While he was guiding us through the owners’ suite and the visitors’ dugout and clubhouse, Scott shared with us some of his insights regarding sustainability and operating such a large facility. One of the most important lessons I took from that tour (besides the fact that the center field wall looks a lot farther from home plate at field level) was the vital importance of communication when it comes to sustainability initiatives. Repeatedly, Scott told explained development and told stories that hinged critically on being able to communicate effectively to various stakeholder groups both upstream and downstream.

When tackling waste reduction goals, the Mariners needed to gain cooperation from vendors, employees, and customers in order to make sure that everything worked out according to plan. As a large client, Scott and his team were able to convince vendors that they needed to provide biodegradable and recyclable product offerings at SafeCo. But what if employees and customers don’t understand what the organization is trying to do, and those new products end up going to the landfill anyway? To solve this challenge, Scott took a more passive approach. Compliance with newly implemented waste reduction programs was achieved by merely relabeling collection areas. For employees, the former trash room became the recycling center, prominently displayed by a poster on the wall. For customers attending the game, trash barrels were removed, and replaced with recycling containers and compost bins. There are only 17 containers at SafeCo now for “trash”, and they are labeled “Landfill”, to remind game-goers what the results of their actions entail.

Although the Mariners have been successful in implementing waste diversion and other sustainability initiatives in the ballpark, it hasn’t always been easy for Scott. He continually stressed the importance of speaking “the same language” when discussing capital investments with his superiors in the organization. As always with any expenditures, you must communicate the business case for the cash outlay. By focusing initially on easily introduced projects with fast paybacks, Scott was able to earn the trust of those above him, and eventually work towards additional sustainable improvements that seem more difficult to finance (such as a small photovoltaic array on top of the stadium’s parking garage).

Overall, the trip to SafeCo was truly a valuable experience that highlighted the importance of communicating on proper terms with various stakeholders… and also allowed some of us to live out our childhood dreams of sitting in a big league dugout with our friends and a bag of sunflower seeds on a sunny afternoon.

 

— Andrew White, CSBP class of 2013

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.

Entrepreneurship in Seattle: Three Meetings You Want to Schedule If You’re In Town

“…because ultimately investors are buying you and you need to own the stage.”

Andy Sack (Executive Directory, TechStars Seattle)

One of the main reasons I decided to enroll at the University of Oregon is the fact that the students here are provided with many great opportunities to meet with important contributors to the Pacific Northwest’s economy. On this trip to Seattle, I knew that in order to maximize the value of my time, I would need to be proactive and meet with people that will benefit my future endeavors. While each of the meetings that we scheduled were engaging, there were three that stood out as extremely informative and applicable to my own aspirations:

Madrona Venture Group

  • One sentence summary: A very successful venture capital firm, with investments ranging from Amazon to the Cheezburger Network.
  • Why this meeting was important to me: They are active in technology investments. As a coder and a general web nerd, hearing the life of an investment group helps me understand what is perceived as value.
  • Most important take-away from our meeting: There is no cookie cutter recipe for value.

Andy Sack, Executive Director of TechStars and CEO of Lighter Capital

  • One sentence summary: An entrepreneur involved in tech incubators.
  • Why this meeting was important to me: Also involved in web startups, Andy was a straight shooter. He didn’t sugar coat anything and told us about both his high points and mistakes that he feels he made.
  • Most important take-away from our meeting: Don’t overanalyze things, just do it. Just plug away and keep chugging.

McKinstry Innovation Center

  • One sentence summary: A really, really cool shared space and community.
  • Why this meeting was important to me: Shared spaces seem to be the future of office space, and I never was exposed to it until this meeting.
  • Most important take-away from our meeting: Just being in a reputable shared space can provide good name recognition to you and accelerate your reputation.

Incoming students, you have a lot to lok forward to next year. Also, if you’re in town, I would highly, highly suggest scheduling the above meetings.

Anyways, that’s my input. If you could meet with a company that wasn’t listed, who would it be?

– Paul S. Chun, MBA ’13
Lundquist Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

 

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.