University of Oregon

Don’t Forget About Your Company’s Best Ally: Culture

Do you work for a startup company that is forming its business foundation? A mid-size company experiencing growing pains as they scale-up? Or a large company hoping to make a major organizational shift?  At all levels, you may be focusing on the numbers, the what and the how; but are you remembering to think about the why? At the core of your business lies the company’s mission, values, and culture. Every leader in the company surely knows the why — why did we open, why is what we do important, and the why behind each and every thing that we do.  Too frequently though, this simple why is not a part of a company’s process. This blog will break this down into three simple steps crucial to leading your company through challenges that you may be facing, with culture as your key ally in the process.

Step 1) Align: You – the leader – are facing a dilemma. Before you act, first look at the why. As a leader, you eat, sleep and breathe the mission, values, and strategy of your company, but have you thought about this dilemma in the context of the bigger issues? Too often we approach a micro-problem with a micro-solution, when really, this small problem is an indicator of an opportunity for a macro-solution. Take for example, in the context of a growing startup, an employee who is complaining about not knowing the guy who works across the desk from him. Your knee-jerk solution might involve introducing the two. Consider, however, that this may be an indicator of something more going on;  could it be a micro-example of the growing pains that your small business is experiencing as the culture of the company is changing?  Is this evolving work culture in alignment with your company’s strategy?  Before reacting to this scenario, you have the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of growth that your startup is facing and what cultural implications these may have.

Step 2) Ask: Our earlier example feeds nicely into step two. You need to take inventory of the rest of your employees. How is the growth feeling from their perspectives? What is their perception of the company’s culture?  In fact, from a social constructivist point-of-view, the company’s culture is defined – even created – by the mutual understanding of your company’s social values across employees. You really need to know the culture, inside and out, and employee engagement is fundamental to this understanding.  Don’t forget to find out the good along with the bad; it is all a part of the organizational culture and will be important in our last step.

Step 3) Adapt: The last step is to evaluate and decide how to evolve as a company. If your business is changing, maybe it’s necessary to accept the hard realization that the culture you started with might just need to change too. Or, on the contrary, if your original culture is still key to your company’s mission and values, then maybe you don’t need to change the culture but instead must figure out how to sustain it within your growing company. Whichever direction you go, realize that a company is never static, and neither is its culture. Cultural adaptability could be the missing puzzle piece for how your startup can grow, but to find that piece, you must start from step one.

Now that you understand these three steps, bring them to whatever dilemma your company is facing and view it with a fresh perspective. You have the opportunity to influence your company’s culture in a way that will reinforce your company’s mission, values and strategy. The result? A long-lasting company with a differentiated and ever-evolving organizational culture.

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Leah Wheeler

Leah is a 2018 MBA from the Lundquist School of Business at the University of Oregon. Her interest in integrating sustainability into common business practices led her to choose the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, ranked #1 Green MBA. Originally from Washington, she graduated from Whitman College with a degree in Economics then worked in healthcare management for the majority of her career. After her MBA, she plans on combining her work experience in management with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her values.

Get Crafty to Shape Your Career

Stagnant. Unmotivated. Unfulfilled. Frustrated. Underutilized.

These feelings can be common for many during their working careers. However, if someone would have told me when I started my career years ago that I would feel these disheartening emotions and lose many nights of sleep while still working for a company that I so greatly admired, I wouldn’t have believed them.

In my early twenties, I began working at a small marketing agency/consultancy. I loved the organization’s culture from the start, enjoyed their line of work, believed in their product they produced and quickly felt a bond with my colleagues. I was itching to learn anything and everything, contribute significantly, excel rapidly and make big moves in my career.

The learning curve was great for my Account Manager role and I was afforded tremendous responsibilities, was assigned accounts with quite a few very renowned clients, and traveled all over the country for stakeholder meetings. For all of which, I am truly grateful.

Overtime however, the allure of the job diminished as the organization restructured and my role changed within it. A position that was previously fulfilling had now become lackluster. While I still believed strongly in the mission of the company and was pleased with its new overall direction, I also felt stuck and highly-unmotivated within an organization where I once experienced extensive opportunity and growth.

During this time of low motivation and unhappiness, I had my first, full encounter with job crafting, “the process of employees redesigning their own jobs to better suit their strengths and interests” (Wrzesniewski, 2010), while shaping their job tasks to better align with their personal values and goals. Job crafting is highly important as it can reengage employees, create more happiness among staff over time and in turn increase performance (Wrzesniewski, 2014). Implementing a consistent job crafting process is also a positive way to find what motivates employees and encourages them to take ownership of their work and purpose while becoming resilient. “In order to reengage employees and make them happy within the workplace, it requires that the employee be doing something meaningful and can get lost in their work on a daily basis” (Pinsker, 2016). Allowing each employee to craft a job that is meaningful for them specifically, is necessary for the success of an organization.

Throughout my last year with the company, I looked to build my experience in different areas to create a more fulfilling work environment by requesting to be involved with different client accounts from industries that aligned more with my values, built stronger relationships with all employees within the small company, and asked to attend meetings that would help me be more strategic within my position. With support from upper management and my colleagues, these efforts helped to boost my morale. However, without a solid job crafting plan in place and knowledge of how to specifically form one, these efforts eventually fell flat and I felt I had no other option than to leave the company for new endeavors.

Now as an MBA student reflecting on that experience, I can’t help but wonder if the scenario could have been different. Was this simply a situation of reaching a natural growth threshold within a company? Could I personally have done more to change my immediate working environment? With this new knowledge of job crafting, what would I tell my previous self?

  1. Identify your own motives, strengths, and passions and revisit them consistently. Self-awareness is key.
  2. Visualize your job, map its elements, and reorganize it to better suit you (Wrzesniewski, 2014).
  3. Find opportunities for work that also add value to others (Valcour, 2013).
  4. Explicitly document your job crafting plans. Write them down, make them tangible (Valcour).
  5. Build trust with managers and solicit their support specifically for your job crafting plans (Wrzesniewski, 2014).
  6. Specifically assess the three core aspects of work, Task Crafting, Relationship Crafting, and Cognitive Crafting, and formulate a plan to move forward with these in mind (Wrzesniewski):

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  1. Have a solid understanding of the relevance of your work to the overall mission of the business. Recognize chances to use your skills and expertise to make a positive contribution.
  2. Refrain from completing work that you ‘should’ do and instead do the work you choose to do. (Livne-Tarandach, 2016).

While I didn’t experience a desired result initially, I do know that I’m now better equipped to more effectively job craft in the future when I’ll be back in the career world one day soon, in hopes for a more successful outcome.

 

This blog was inspired by a class assignment developed for the Management Individuals and Organizational (MGMT612) course lead by Dr. Reut Livne-Tarandach.

Written by Kelsey

Kelsey is a 2018 MBA from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. She spent most of her career in marketing project and account management with a diverse client base from both corporate and government sectors. After graduation, she aspires to evoke positive social change through creatively enhancing and building innovative sport brands, products and organizations that serve the greater good.

Why Smart Doesn’t Make You Happy

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It is time to get crafty. Job crafting, that is. 

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Written by Tess Meyer

Tess is a 2018 MBA in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track. With a background in Psychology and experience managing extensive teams, she is passionate about driving human potential. Tess' aim is to enter career services where she can encourage sustainable career passion for clients and businesses alike. When she is not writing or studying, Tess can be found hiking, reading, or trying a new restaurant. Learn more on www.frombrowneyes.com.

Winter Break Already?

“Before you know it, it will be winter break.” We kept hearing that over and over from the second year MBAs. I didn’t believe them. I’m sure my classmates would agree, looking at the workload, I didn’t know how we would get it all done, but we did. I know more about bonds, balance sheets, and beta, but I think I learned the most through my relationships with my classmates. Even though we all ended up in the same program, we came here from such different places looking for different things. I underestimated how valuable others’ backgrounds could be to my own experience.

Uncomfortable. One way I could describe how I felt going back to school in a new state across the country after 7 years in the working world. Let’s face it, no one likes feeling discomfort, but most of us came here to challenge ourselves, so it’s inevitable. Who likes to admit they’re confused? Wrong even? This was a regular occurrence for many of us. It felt less daunting when classmates mapped out a concept on the whiteboard before I could even ask for help. Or when multiple people came up to me after class to offer experiences on a topic I seemed interested in. I came to realize that a big part of getting an MBA is learning about yourself and how to bring authenticity to your future position. It is a lot easier to find that genuineness when others are so willing to share themselves.

I can now confirm that yes, the first term goes by lightning fast. We learned in management that, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”* I think the same goes for business school. I mean, case and point – even after spending every waking moment together, we still want to sing karaoke on Thursdays together. Time and time again we heard that the key to success in the business world is teamwork and collaboration. Based on that, I think we’re going to have a very successful class walking into graduation day saying, “It’s over already?”

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*https://hbr.org/2013/07/we-all-need-friends-at-work

Written by Alison O'Shaughnessy

Ali is a 2018 MBA from the Center of Sustainable Business Practices. She spent most of her career working in digital marketing for non-profit clients in New York City. After graduating, she plans on combining her expertise in marketing with her passion for socially and environmentally responsible business practices by working for a company that shares her altruistic values.

OMBA takes the Bend Venture Conference

The numbers have been crunched, the presentation decks prepared, and nerves are on high. Your carefully thought out idea is about to become reality…but only if you win. Welcome to the Bend Venture Conference.

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As an MBA student in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track, I expected to be provided with insights into the start-up world within a classroom context. But when I found myself, only three-weeks into my MBA program, traveling to Bend, Oregon for my first venture conference I realized that the Oregon MBA exceeds expectations.

A venture conference is an event where ideas turn into actions. A little research on the Bend Venture Conference (BVC) website led me to expect a multi-day entrepreneurship-focused event and close to $1 million in prize money. The start-up companies were broken into three categories of competition: Social Impact, Early Stage, and Growth Stage. 15 founders were going to pitch their start-up ideas to groups of investors. And I was going to be part of it.

After arriving at the Tower Theater in Bend, my classmates and I got settled in for the first round of competition: Social Impact. Here, companies were formed around the idea of helping others. We saw presentations centered around water conservation, fighting human sex trafficking, and blood-borne disease diagnostic tools. To round out this philanthropic group, Rebekah Bastian, the Vice President of Product at Zillow took the stage as the key note speaker. Bastian discussed how she is leveraging her role at the United States’ leading online real estate marketplace to help end homelessness.

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The Early Stage competition kicked off Day Two. Here we saw six founders pitch their hopeful companies for three minutes each. Again, the company focuses varied. Anything from inner-tire suspension to rainwater collection systems to crowdsourcing apps could be found onstage. These new companies were competing for $15,000 and the vote was decided by the audience. I was amazed to know that my ballet could help the company I most believed in launch.

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The Growth Stage competition rounded out the conference. The five companies were seeking seeding funding, typically in the amount of 1 million dollars. These companies – like Cartogram, Hubb, and Outdoor Project – have all been around for a few years and the founders were practiced presenters. The keynote speaker for Day Two was Loni Stark, the Senior Director of Strategy and Product Marketing at Adobe and the co-founder of Stark Insider, a West Coast media brand. Stark shared her thoughts on the significance of digital on customer experience and marketing.

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As a future entrepreneur and hopeful starter-upper like myself, the face value of attending the BVC was obvious. It was a chance to see how entrepreneurs and investors were going to come together to bring the next big thing to market. I was able to learn impactful tips, like what to wear on stage, at what pace to speak, and how to stand while presenting. I was able to apply the business terms I have been learning in my MBA classes to a real-world application. But the most valuable lesson I learned at the BVC that it is always possible to turn your passion into your career.

There is little scarier than introducing yourself as a Master’s student specializing in innovation and entrepreneurship to a room of innovative entrepreneurs. There is a pressure to have that next million-dollar idea researched and ready. So when you don’t have it all figured out, it is easy to feel apprehensive. But the BVC showed me how to discover that million-dollar idea… Or at least where to start. Despite how varied the ideas presented on stage were, the theme was all the same: do what you love. Discover your passion and work within that space. And if no one is doing exactly what you want to, go out and build that company from the bottom up.

I had high expectations for the MBA program at the University of Oregon. But looking back at the connections made, ideas inspired, and knowledge grasped while attending the BVC with the classmates, I realize that the Oregon MBA is already exceeding expectations.

 

Written by Tess Meyer

Tess is a 2018 MBA in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track. With a background in Psychology and experience managing extensive teams, she is passionate about driving human potential. Tess' aim is to enter career services where she can encourage sustainable career passion for clients and businesses alike. When she is not writing or studying, Tess can be found hiking, reading, or trying a new restaurant. Learn more on www.frombrowneyes.com.

Warsaw MBA Students and Oregon SPM Students Connect Over Shared History

Warsaw Sports Marketing first year MBA students, together with the incoming Sports Product Management (SPM) students from the U of O’s Portland campus had the privilege of visiting some powerful pieces of Eugene history in September 2016.

When an email came through to my inbox inviting Warsaw students to join a private tour of “Nike/Eugene” heritage, I was immediately intrigued and RSVP’d. On the morning of the tour, we all met outside Bowerman’s Lab where we were greeted by Steve Bence from Nike.  Bowerman’s Lab is a hidden gem in Eugene; it was a space Bill Bowerman created to work on the design and construction of some of the very first Nike shoes. The rooms in Bowerman’s Lab were quite small, so before we all split into smaller groups for the tour, we congregated outside to hear the story behind the lab. Bence shared details about the history of the lab. The location was all part of Bowerman’s plan, and his location choice helped lead him to some of his greatest innovations. We then heard from Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, the Director of the UO SPM program, who recounted her experiences as a runner on the University of Oregon track team during Bowerman’s launch of Nike. She was one of the women who got to trial shoes while they were in development and played a key role in the evolution of their design. It was exciting to hear her account of Bowerman’s design inspiration and then to take a step back in time and see it all come to life as we toured the lab.

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After our tour of Bowerman’s Lab, we drove across town to visit Pre’s Rock. Up windy roads and tucked into a neighborhood we found a memorial for the late Steve Prefontaine. I had first heard about Pre when I was a runner on my high school’s track and cross country teams. My coach, Rey Garza, was one of many who were inspired by and believed in Pre’s legacy – so much that he’d named his son Steve, after him. Often at practice Coach Rey would tell us the stories he’d heard of Pre’s running career, so visiting Pre’s Rock for the first time was an exciting and sobering moment for me. Many runners and Pre fans travel thousands of miles to come dedicate their running memorabilia in Pre’s name. We saw t-shirts, sweat bands, race bibs, finisher medals, beads and cheer poms all decorating the memorial. Bence, who was good friends with Pre and ran with him during his college years, shared with us some of his favorite personal memories.  It has been decades since Pre’s passing, so it is truly remarkable to see the impact he still has on the entire running community.

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Our third stop on the tour was on the University of Oregon campus – Hayward Field. Hayward Field holds a special place in the hearts of runners across the globe, whether they’ve actually visited the track or not.  There is no other track in the United States that is as well-known and rich in history as Hayward Field. Some of the best athletes in the world have competed on the field, and some of the fastest runners in the world have toed the line on the track. It’s home to many of the most prestigious international meets, including the annual Prefontaine Classic. It’s the kind of place that gives you goosebumps. I’ve already ran past the field a few times since I moved to Eugene – just for the extra inspiration.

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Our next stop for the day was at the state-of-the-art John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes. We all filed into the auditorium and found our seats in bright yellow theater-style chairs. We heard a speech from Whitney Wagoner, Director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, and she shared some of the goals and the history of the Warsaw program.  Schmidt-Devlin spoke next about the Sports Product Management program and welcomed the second class of SPM students. They each talked about the significance of the two programs in the sports community, and future plans for more collaboration between both programs. Last, but not least, David Higdon, NASCAR’s VP of Integrated Marketing Communications and the Chair of the Warsaw Center Advisory Board, got us pumped for the tailgate and the game we attended that afternoon.

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Inspired and energized by the morning’s activities and speakers, we all flocked over to the Ducks football game for some food and networking at the joint Warsaw-SPM tailgate.

These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are what differentiates the University of Oregon’s sports programs and what ultimately sold me on choosing to pursue my MBA here. I know this day will be one of the highlights of my University of Oregon MBA career.

Written by Amber Santos

Santos is a Class of 2018 Oregon MBA student with a passion for marketing, running and the outdoors. Before moving to Eugene for the MBA program, Santos grew up in California and earned her undergraduate B.S. in Business Administration; marketing, with a minor in fashion merchandising from California State University, Long Beach. She spent her time between degrees working in the advertising world in Los Angeles. As an Oregon MBA within the Warsaw Sports Marketing cohort, Santos plans to further develop her skillset and pursue a career in sports apparel marketing upon graduation.

1st Year Oregon MBA's

Oregon does it different.

I never really expected to be a student again. When I walked across the stage at my college graduation in 2008, I was pretty sure it was the last time I would ever do that. With my shiny new degree firmly in hand, I transitioned seamlessly into my 9-to-(often-way-past)-5 job at an advertising agency in Chicago. I had the opportunity to work with passionate, smart, ambitious people who all loved what they did. Turns out, I was good at my job and I was rewarded for it. But after 7 years of marketing consumer-packaged goods, I found myself in a rut. I wasn’t inspired by the work I was doing, and the grind of agency life was starting to get to me. I was looking for something else, but I didn’t know what.

My introduction to the OMBA happened by chance. A visit to family friends in Phoenix one week in March 2015 turned into a meeting with a woman who was, at the time, about to graduate from the program. She spoke passionately about her time in Eugene, her experience with her cohort, and about the unique opportunity that the Warsaw Center offered her.  Something clicked into place for me that night. The realization that I could combine my passion for sports and my belief in the power of being a fan, with a strong business education and roll that all into a career that I could get excited about. How could I not jump at that opportunity?

But as any good strategist does, I approached my application process from multiple angles, exploring programs that offered similar-but-not-quite-the-same options to what we do here. I kept coming back to Oregon. “There’s something different about the MBA at Oregon,” my alumni friend said that night in March. She was right, and it was clear from the very beginning of the application process. The family-like attitude, the welcoming communication, the strong desire to really get to know me – the Oregon MBA just felt different than every other program I applied to. If I was going to leave my job and my life to dive head first into a full time program, I had to be damn sure I was moving forward. And my first visit to Eugene, my first day on campus, felt like stepping into a whole new world of possibility.

So here I am, eight years after that first graduation, settling back into the familiar role of student. I’m three weeks in, and I have to say – an MBA is a whole new level of “student-ing”. Our 52-person cohort (the largest the program has accepted to date) spent two full weeks in MBA GO! Eight whole days of teaming, talking, sharing, learning and building each other up. Every business school will introduce its new class to the case study method, teach them how to navigate the university’s calendar and remind everyone to utilize career services ASAP. But again, the OMBA proved that we do things differently. Sure we did all those expected things during orientation, but there was also a clear focus from the beginning on establishing communication and teamwork skills – skills industry leaders say they need more of from MBA graduates. There were whole sessions dedicated to self-care, to building trust among our teams, and to helping us identify strengths and build confidence in one another. At the end of it, I came out ready to tackle the challenge ahead of me in the next two years. But I also came out feeling like I have 52 new best friends that I can rely on to pick me up when I stumble, which I inevitably will. I have 52 new teammates that I want to see succeed as much as I want to succeed myself. And that’s the biggest part of the Oregon difference that I’ve seen so far.

We’re committed to excellence here, but to achieve excellence, we must all be the best version of ourselves. And that’s really why I’m here. Orientation started us down that path, and for me it crystalized what I was looking for all along – new challenges to push me into a better version of myself. And a team around me striving for the same thing.

Written by Laura Condella

Laura is a 2018 MBA with the Warsaw Center for Sports Marketing. She's a creative problem solver with over 8 years of experience helping a variety of brands from packaged goods to sports & entertainment organizations build their business through authentic connections with shoppers & fans. She's passionate about the power of sports in community building and the impact being a fan. Hockey fan, baseball lover, Chicago native.

Shifts in the Trade Winds: IFT16 and the Opportunity of Conscious Consumption

If you haven’t met me, the basic introduction is that I’m using my time in the Oregon MBA to build a career that impacts sustainable food and agriculture. This path led me to interning with Mercaris, a startup that provides rare and valuable market intelligence to the organic grain industry. Also, nice to meet you, hope you’re having a nice summer, and welcome to the Oregon MBA!

The IFT16 Trade Show Floor

The trade show floor at IFT16

Two weeks ago, I represented Mercaris at IFT16, an international convention of food scientists and industry professionals. The conference promoted professional development through shared research. Meanwhile, an accompanying trade show attracted a cross section of the industry, all vying to show their “on trend” ingredients, equipment, and processes.

Being new to the world of food science, I noticed a unifying trend: the prevalence of informed, discerning, and wary consumers. If you have paid attention to food advertising in the last five years, you’ll recognize terms like “clean ingredients” and “sustainable sourcing.” You might also know a little bit more about technical ideas like probiotics, antioxidants, or minimal processing. You might be attempting a diet that is “free from” ingredients like gluten, sugar, sodium, and even meat. You might even classify yourself as a locavore, a flexitarian, or just a foodie in general. And the most interesting part of this amazing development is how it has taken the food industry by surprise.

A keynote seminar underlined the gap in understanding between the food scientists and the food consumers. A marketing executive presented the findings of C+R Research, which conducted a marketing study on the clean label trend. He stated that clean label claims and minimalist packaging are “a backlash and a challenge to Big Food companies” and they target a mainstream audience. 69% of those surveyed reported consistent label-reading behavior. Consumers are certainly awakened to the idea that some food products have negative health benefits. More importantly, consumers woke up to the idea that some companies have a consistent track record of stakeholder care. 47% of those surveyed reported the use of simple strategies to meet their personal dietary requirements, including trust in certain retail outlets or packaged products.

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Me and a 2,000lb tote, a standard of transportation for food commodities

In another age, health and wellness were confined to certain high-value customer segments. However, the final takeaway from C+R Research pointed to a tectonic shift in consumer behavior: when it comes to food, education and socio-economic status are no longer the reliable barometers they once were. Conscious consumption now cuts across class, with consumer age playing a key role for segmentation purposes. Millennials and Boomers are more receptive to clean label claims than are Gen Xers, but all generations exhibit some level of food literacy which impacts their purchase behavior. As one Gen X member of a live consumer panel remarked, “they put [high fructose corn syrup] in our food and we got fat as a nation… I’m mad at them.”

And so, to what cause do we attribute this disconnect between consumer and industry? Alarmist documentaries like “Cowspiracy,” and “Food, Inc.” paint a grim picture of multinationals that hide their nefarious production practices or actively sacrifice the health of people and planet in the name of profit margins. From my position on the trade floor, however, the disconnect seems to stem from reductionist science. As one executive from the GreenBiz Group noted, the purpose of a food company is to create products with an eye toward cost, safety, and taste. Within this spectrum of values, raw food commodities boil down to fats, sweeteners, and emulsifying agents. They are designed for shelf-stability and are marketed for mass appeal.

Once you add nutrition to this mix, the food scientists begin to scratch their heads. A food product is only the sum of its ingredients, and meeting dietary guidance is a matter of stacking nutritional values. Under this lens, food science looks more like product development, while nutrition separates into another discipline altogether. Food scientists are rapidly trying to address this gap in their education; one of my favorite seminars was amusingly titled “Nutrition and Food: An Obvious but Little Appreciated Partnership.”

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A consumer panel hosted by C+R Research

The trend towards health and wellness has seismic implications for the entire supply chain. Going forward, consumers will reward food companies for their attention to nutritional economics and transparency, rather than for their cost economics and quality control. Furthermore, as the world shifts towards more sustainable diets, food companies will be rewarded for communicating the environmental impact of their ingredients. The IFIC reports that for 41% of consumers, the sustainability of a food product is an order winner. And Big Food is responding with agility. A seminar on sustainable proteins illuminated the development—and the opportunity—of supply chains based around plant, insect, and cultured proteins.

At IFT16, I tasted the future of food. Protein bars made with chia, amaranth, and algae oil. Egg-free chocolate chip cookies made with a chickpea flour. 100% Guatemalan dark roast served on a nitro similar to Guinness, and an Indian spice cold brew made with tamarind. Naan pizza. Spaghetti-and-mealworms. I also had updated versions of trending classics like the mango smoothie and the grilled cheese sandwich. IFT16 stimulated all my senses and sensibilities, and I am fortunate for the experience.

Written by Joey Jaraczewski

Jaraczewski joins the Oregon MBA with a passion for changing the food industry. He grew up in rural Arizona and has spent the past four years exploring the world of food from multiple angles. He’s worked as a server and bartender in Flagstaff and traveled across the country visiting farms, feedlots, food distribution warehouses, and retailers. As an Oregon MBA on the sustainability track, Jaraczewski plans to build on that experience to explore ways to build a more sustainable food system for generations to come. Jaraczewski will graduate as an Oregon MBA with the class of 2017.

NYC Top Ten from Sports Marketing MBA Visit

10. Glideslope

Agency visits were at a minimum during this trip, but Glideslope is a regular stop for our Sports Marketing MBA group. The agency’s founding partner, David Fuller and senior associate Jamie Rocha shared some great information about how companies can leverage global sports to create a long-lasting and positive effect on people around the world. In a competitive landscape where a lot of sports marketing agencies are trying to do everything, it was refreshing to see the specialized space that Glideslope has carved out for itself. The visit was capped by a panel that included Oregon alum Matt Geshke from Lareus Sport for Good Foundation and Paul Teeple, the Sport for Development Director at Partners for the Americas. Sports has a powerful influence and it’s clear that some companies are doing a fantastic job at using it to help develop other nations.

9. Major League Soccer

UO Alumnus Ian Campbell was our primary host at the MLS league office. His job is associated with supporting individual team’s business operations around the league. In addition to Ian, we were privileged to talk with Greg Lalas, the editor-in-chief for MLS Digital and CMO and good friend to our program, Howard Handler. I really enjoyed Howard’s presentation on the re-branding effort the league recently undertook. The background and reasoning behind the effort was interesting to hear straight from the CMO. This is the type of experience one can expect as part of this program!

8. National Basketball Association

Hearing stories and seeing pictures of previous visits with David Stern at the NBA raised our hopes for the possibility to spend some time with Commissioner Silver, but schedules did not align this year… However, the visit was far from a downer. We were treated to lunch and the company of a four person panel with a representative from Global Partnerships, Merchandising, Digital Marketing and Digital Media. From a business perspective, the NBA does a lot of things really well and I’m glad we were able to hear about a lot of their efforts first hand. I hope the commissioner knows he is welcome to visit us in Eugene anytime!

7. Alumni Networking Event

Food and drink provided by the program + visiting with alumni who are killing it in NYC and other northeast cities = Awesome! (that’s what this program is all about)

6. Bloomberg Sports

We know that data and analytics have become buzzwords in sports. However, I don’t think any of us really understood how much data is being collected and the amazing tools available to synthesize and recall that data to answer a question. Bill Squadron played host at Bloomberg Sports and humored the fantasy nerds and stat heads in our group. To show the power of some of the tools they have developed, he pulled up pitch information about a well known pitcher, restricted parameters to curveball location on 3-2 counts. What we saw were a few dots scattered around a box to simulate a strike zone, which indicated that this pitcher doesn’t trust his curveball as much deep into the count. What truly impressed us though was Bill proceeded to click on one of the dots and the game video popped up of that exact pitch! After picking up our jaws from off the table I think we all knew what tools we would want to use the next time we fill out our fantasy roster.

5. 9/11 Memorial

A number of members of the group had never been to New York before this trip and a larger number of those who had, this was their first opportunity to see the memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives at the World Trade Center site on 9/11. You can’t help but be awestruck as you first approach the sunken waterfall. Viewing the names that surround the memorial of those who died clearly communicates that this is hallowed ground. A lot of us shared where we were that fateful morning, how old we were and whether we knew anyone directly affected by the event. But the truth is, we were all affected. It was moving to be able to pay respects to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren who died too soon.

4. ESPN

Who wouldn’t be excited to visit the worldwide leader is sports television! Other than seeing and hearing from a few program alumni (Kelly Johnson, David Hobbie and Gil Beverly), I felt like the highlight of this visit was listening to Barry Blyn from ESPN’s consumer insights group. He spoke about the ESPN brand and how they strive to communicate that to viewers. “Sports with authority and personality.”

3. Madison Square Garden

The mecca of all NBA arenas. From top to bottom the arena is amazing and since it’s remodel in 2013 the premium seating options offer a lot of variety and are regularly sold out. Wait, but how good are the Knicks this year? Apparently that doesn’t matter because in a market like New York people  are willing to pay during a down year to hold on to their spot for a good year. Premium seating inventory expanded in two areas I wouldn’t expect. The first is the sky bridge seats. Almost unnoticeable from the court/ice, fans are able to watch the game from a catwalk-like platform that extends along both sidelines, so you are literally right over the action! The second is the suite bunkers located under the court/ice. That’s right, you can’t even see the live action from these suites! These bunker suites are custom built and are meant to provide a space where people can talk or conduct business in a quiet and private setting. They’re all sold, so I guess the “if you build it, they will come” mantra works at the Garden. Big thanks to Andy Renmeester for arranging the tour!

2. Galatioto Sports Partners

There are few individuals in the sports finance world that are so well connected that they know everyone personally and regularly play an integral role in team dispositions and acquisitions. Sal Galatioto is one of those individuals. To be honest, I don’t think there is a member of our group who really understood who Sal is and what he has accomplished. But that wasn’t the case when we left! He and his firm have consulted with and helped finance dozens of sports franchise transactions. Any sale of a team within the past 20 years, Sal was either involved or new specific details of the deal. However, it wasn’t his resume that impressed us the most and made our visit to his office so special. He is a great storyteller and the passion infused in his telling of the story communicated that this guy loves what he does and he has built relationships in the business by being true to who he is and taking risks. Stories like his are an inspiration to a bunch of MBA students who are anxious to make their own mark in the industry. Thanks for sitting back and telling us how it is, Sal! We’ll always remember your thoughts about MLS…

1. Spending time with the cohort and not having canceled flights

We spent eight unforgettable days in New York City visiting companies and meeting executives in the industry we love. Flights were on-time (enough) to get us where we needed to go and growing closer as a cohort outside of Eugene created memories that will last a lifetime. Here’s to our last experiential trip on this two-year roller coaster!

Written by Seth Bohne

Seth is a second year MBA in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He is planning to go into strategic planning and business development for a sports property or brand.

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.
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    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.