Carson College Annual Events Offer Industry Insights to Business Students and Communities
By Sue McMurray
As an integral part of Washington’s research-oriented, land-grant institution, the Carson College of Business creates value for business and academic communities by hosting the annual Power Breakfast, Business Technology Symposium, and Walton Lecture events, along with industry speakers throughout the year. In 2022, a mix of globally competitive business leaders and entrepreneurs shared their professional insights through Carson College panels and lectures.
Bellevue Power Breakfast focuses on reshaping supply chains after a breakdown and skills future business leaders need
At the September Power Breakfast, four experts from the airline, transportation, tech, and medical supply industries spoke on keys to successful supply chain management and the skills future business leaders need to have.
In light of the global supply chain disruptions during COVID-19, upcoming business professionals need to be well educated on supply chain management, the speakers agreed.
Jeff Laub (’14 EMBA), vice president of supply chains at Kestra Medical Technologies Inc., said good training opportunities exist in programs that emphasize entrepreneurship and problem solving.
Ann Ardizzone (’83 Busi. Admin.), vice president of supply chain at Alaska Airlines, recommended business classes include case studies with a heavy focus on supply chain concepts.
Adam Peterson (’02 Comm.), director of supply operations and cloud supply chain at Microsoft, said linkages between analytics and communications are key and that he prefers to hire engineers and people who can think in multiple dimensions.
Kathy Blomquist (’83 Cloth. & Tex.), vice president of sales for DTH Expeditors, Inc., said understanding how geopolitical constraints affect global supply change is vital and recommended courses on customs brokerage. She recalled the 911 attack on the United States which caused airlines to temporarily close. “We still had materials to deliver, so we went back to ground shipping. It’s something we constantly think about.”
Cyber security competency also tops the list, according to Laub. “Cyber security attacks and sustainability weren’t on our minds 20 years ago,” he said. “Businesses must be able to handle multiple variables of risk. It behooves us to be nimble.”
Business Technology Symposium speakers discuss digital transformation in organizations
The 2022 annual Business Technology Symposium featured top executives from leading enterprises to discuss how organizations are handling digital transformation in areas such as customer experience, operational processes, and business models.
In simple terms, digital transformation is doing something electronically that has previously been done manually, for example depositing a check via an app versus going to the bank.
“Digital transformation is changing what we’ve done traditionally,” said Aaron Wheeler (’20 EMBA), Suquamish Tribe director of information technology. “From school, to medicine, to entertainment, reading, ordering food–even the mundane has moved into a digital space.” He said in very rural areas like Kitsap, Washington, digital transformation has improved access to healthcare and free internet sites within the small the community.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are some of the most important trends business students should be thinking about, said Ketan Pendse, Edifecs Inc.’s director of professional services.
Nicole Weynands (’01 Comp. Eng.), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory project manager and team lead, said quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are becoming more applicable in different industries. “We have software engineers building products and writing code and data scientists who understand the science and math. I think machine learning engineers will be a new type of role we’ll see in companies to solve problems between these spaces,” she said.
For digital technology to succeed, the panelists said products must be intuitive and easy to adopt and integrate with other things. But adoption doesn’t mean older technologies will be ruled out.
“The concepts you learn in management information classes translate well,” said Weynands. She said relational databases are still useful and advised students to learn how to use and apply Excel software.
The panelists agreed the importance of human interaction is not to be dismissed, despite the popularity of zoom and remote work during the pandemic. “A hybrid model of work will be here to stay,” said Pendse. “There is still value in face-to-face communication.” Weynands said it’s important to maintain a human connection and bring staff together a couple of times a year.
“Collaboration is number one for me,” said Wheeler. “First, I look for people who can work in a group. Can they compromise? Move forward to meet deadlines? Then I look at their technical skills.”
Walton Lecture illustrates managing risk at the Port of Seattle
Port of Seattle executives David Soike (’80 Civ. Eng.), chief operating officer, and Jeff Hollingsworth, director of risk management, presented “Planes, Ships, Cyber, and Internships: Managing Business Risk at the Port of Seattle” at the 2022 Walton Lecture.
The Port of Seattle is a special purpose government entity formed in 1911 under enabling legislation in the state of Washington and has the authority to run Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as well as various maritime operations. The port generates 121,000 jobs applicable to business and finance majors, among many others.
Hollingsworth shared several insights from his career managing the diverse segments of risk within the port’s operations.
He said the port’s biggest lawsuits in the last ten years have centered on employment practices, which is not surprising in an organization that size. He illustrated how the port developed a workplace responsibility program to help mitigate human resources issues. He also touched on risk management challenges unique to the Pacific Northwest, for example earthquake insurance and maritime acquisitions.
His team calculated earthquake insurance could cost $75 million to protect the port’s locations, an unrecoverable amount if no earthquake occurred. “We didn’t buy more earthquake insurance,” he said. “We decided to retain the risks internally through operations reserves and ‘liquid paper’—things that could easily be turned into cash if needed.” When the port acquired a family-owned marina, he said due diligence was needed to explore risks such as the covered boathouses, which are a fire hazard, contamination from underground fuel tanks, and houseboat residents.
“You can’t manage everything, and you have to take risks to manage risk. Without it, there’s no growth,” Hollingsworth said. He said he prefers a five-year strategy to prepare and be better able to measure outcomes for emerging risks such as cyber security, climate change, and pollution, versus a longer-term plan.
The opportunities in risk management will grow exponentially as the port grows and hires new employees. “We’ll be adding 30 to 40 internships and 100 jobs this year,” said Soike. “We have customers in Asia, Europe, South America, and the Middle East. You never know where your career will take you.”