Building Connections with Leading Industry Professionals:

A Year in Review

In an effort to create meaningful hands-on learning opportunities for business students, the Carson College of Business builds connections with leading industry professionals across all disciplines and cultivates those engagements so that students gain confidence in the professional world and first-hand business knowledge. Each year, the Carson College hosts numerous events, lectures, seminars, and symposiums that allow students to meet and learn from successful alumni and industry, who share valuable advice.

Walton Lecture

Thomas MarraTom4x6, president and chief executive officer of Symetra Financial, Washington state’s largest life insurance company, presented “Business Ethics: Doing the Right Thing to Optimize Long-Term Shareholder Value” at the 2015 Walton Lecture. Marra described his career in the financial services field, from his first job as an actuary with Hartford Financial Services through his present position.  He joined Symetra in 2010 and says the company’s adherence to three guiding principles: value, transparency, and sustainability, has helped build its brand and make it more profitable. Following these principles is consistent with long-term shareholder wealth maximization, he said. “The bottom line is that doing the right thing is good for business,” he said. “Ultimately, investors will be rewarded for our diligence in providing honest value to customers.” Marra recommended two books for students: “The Innovator’s Dilemma” and “How Will You Measure Your Life” by Clay Christensen. “You can be profitable by doing the right thing,” he said. “Find your calling, but stick to your heart and live at a high standard.”

The Walton Lecture brings a distinguished leader in the insurance and risk management field to campus to share professional perspectives with students. The lecture is hosted by the Department of Finance and Management Science and made possible through an endowment from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Washington. The endowment honors Max Walton, the group’s past president.

Gary P. Brinson Distinguished Lecture in Finance

LWU2John Y. Campbell, Morton L. and Carole S. Olshan Professor of Economics at Harvard University, presented “Restoring Rational Choice: The Challenge of Consumer Financial Regulation” at the 2016 Gary P. Distinguished Lecture Series. He focused on the growing national problem of consumer debt and the need for consumer financial regulation practices that will help households avoid mistakes that arise from many types of financial ignorance. “In the last 10 years, household finance intervention has become a hot area,” he said. “New acts and federal agencies have been created because people are living longer and have to fund defined-contribution retire systems, and college tuition and rent are more expensive.” Campbell suggested consumers are at risk for financial pitfalls when they fail to take advantage of “free money” such as employer salary matches and 401K plans, locate taxable assets in non-taxable accounts, or refinance fixed rate mortgages. Other mistakes include repeated high-cost borrowing, nonparticipation in risky asset markets, and unused home equity in old age. To avoid these traps, Campbell recommended better financial education, easy to interpret disclosures of loan terms, well diversified, low-cost retirement savings vehicles, and consumer financial regulation where necessary to protect consumers from misleading financial products.”

The Gary P. Brinson Distinguished Lecture Series is hosted by the Department of Finance and Management Science and was established by Gary P. Brinson, CFA (’68 MBA). Brinson is the founder and retired chair of Brinson Partners Inc., and a nationally recognized authority on global investing.

Burtenshaw Distinguished Lecture Series

Dave Furano4x6Michael Zislis_Burtenshaw4x6 Dave Furano and Michael Zislis, cofounders of Rock & Brews restaurants, presented “Serving Those Who Rock” during the annual Burtenshaw Distinguished Lecture Series. While each spoke to his own career journey, together they delivered a unified message to the student audience: “dream big and live your dream.”

Furano, the company’s chief visionary officer, toured for five years with the Ice Follies as an assistant to the arena’s general manager. He produced a number of rock’s most momentous concert tours and was tour manager for the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Led Zeppelin, George Harrison and more. He relayed how business was often sealed with a handshake and cash transactions during his career. He organized a concert with Bob Dylan with no formal contract and sold out seven Madison Square Gardens and four Boston stadiums. “Go work for someone you think is great,” he said. “Hard work and passion for what you love will result in accomplishment.”

Michael Zislis opened one of the first brewpubs on California’s fledgling pub scene and then several other pubs up and down the coast. He owns the Shade Hotel brand and other restaurants, including Rock’n Fish and The Strand House. His brand is all about hospitality and service, and he was part of the labor force when building his first restaurant in Manhattan Beach. “Most successful people are hands-on,” he said, having designed, built, and repaired his own equipment to save costs. “Find what you love to do and you will never have to work,” he said.

The Burtenshaw Distinguished Lecture Series is sponsored by alumnus DeVere Jerry and Angelina Burtenshaw in memory of their son, Calvin Brett. The lecture is presented annually by the WSU School of Hospitality Business Management.

Research Lecture Series

Karl Aquino4x6 Karl Aquino, Richard Poon Professor of Organizations and Society in the marketing and behavioral sciences division at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, presented “We See What We Believe: How Ideology Influences Social Judgment.” The lecture was the first in a series featuring diverse researchers who will network with WSU faculty and support WSU’s grand challenge research initiatives. Aquino spoke about how beliefs about two opposing ideological systems—elitist (preference for group hierarchy) or egalitarian (preference for group equality)—affect a variety of social judgments. Among these are the perceived fairness of affirmative action-based hiring, credibility of professors, interpretation of a cross-sex workplace conflict, and willingness to hire minority vs. non-minority job candidates. “Our data suggest elitists exalt the successful and derogate the disadvantaged, whereas egalitarians valorize the disadvantaged and devalue groups perceived to be on top of society,” he said. “These biases in perception matter because what we believe about different groups can lead us to making judgments that favor some and disadvantage others. Our extreme beliefs can lead us to reinterpret social information so it deviates from impartiality and confirms what we want to see.”Aquino shared the following research insights with the audience:

  • A commitment to social equality doesn’t eliminate racial or gender biases, it just changes their direction;
  • Human judgment is susceptible to ideologically-driven motivation in predictable ways;
  • Ideological extremists in key organizational positions can perpetuate traditional and reverse discrimination;
  • Ideology may be more impactful than social identification in guiding decision making.

Hoops Institute for Taxation Research Policy Spring 2016 Forum

Four experts discussed tax-related transfer pricing and multinational profit shifting at the spring 2016 Hoops Tax Forum.

Kim Clausing4x6 Kimberly Clausing, Thormund A. Miller and Walter Mintz professor of economics at Reed College, gave background on the base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) project and explained how progress will be measured and monitored (action 11). Annually, U.S. multinational corporation offshore earnings are $2 trillion, and loss to the U.S. government is estimated at $100 billion a year. “It’s a nonlinear problem because the bulk of profit shifting occurs in other countries,” she said. “Current financial data is missing detailed observations on tax details and data on tax havens; we need to have the right data to form solutions.”
Reuven Avi-Yonah Reuven Avi-Yonah, Irwin I. Cohn professor of law and director of the International Tax LLM Program at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, discussed BEPS plans to neutralize the effects of hybrid mismatch arrangements (action 2) and plans to develop effective controlled foreign corporation rules (action 3). “It’s a pity we aren’t doing anything for domestic law,” he said. “There two ways to solve this: focus on the source country and tax what is earned in it, and reform U.S. tax.”
Leslie Robinson4x6 Leslie Robinson, associate professor of business administration in the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, summarized the BEPS recommendations for disclosing aggressive tax planning (action 12) and transfer pricing documentation and country-by-country reporting (action 13). She said key problems could include tax payer information that could either be leaked or publicly issued by a foreign country and country-by-country reporting that imposes lots of compliance on multinationals.
Chris Faiferlick4x6 Chris Faiferlick, Ernst & Young LLP principal and the leader of Ernst & Young LLP’s financial services transfer pricing practice in Washington, D.C., focused on aligning transfer-pricing outcomes with value creation (actions 8, 9 and 10). He said in yesteryear, most companies didn’t have intangibles but today, intangibles are a major portion of the value change. BEPS is trying to understand how to evaluate intangibles that allow multinationals to earn money. “Transfer pricing is not working well,” he said.

The lecture was jointly sponsored by the WSU Hoops Institute of Taxation Research & Policy and The Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service.

Read the 2015 Hoops Tax Forum article “National Tax Analysts Editor-in-Chief and Washington Department of Revenue Executive Share Perspectives.”