Dean Chip Hunter, left, moderates the Power Breakfast panel of business leaders discussing the millennial workforce.

Carson College Annual Events Offer Business Insights to Pacific Northwest Policy 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 several annual events. The 2018 Power Breakfast, the Walton Lecture, and the Business Technology Symposium featured a mix of globally competitive business leaders and entrepreneurs who shared their professional insights through panels and lectures on the Pullman campus and in Seattle.

The Walton Lecture

Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks Coffee Company, presented “Lattes and Risk Management” at the 2018 Walton Lecture. Legg explained Starbucks’ international scope which involves 28,700 stores in 77 countries and roasteries, plants, and distribution centers in the United States, China, Italy, India, and the Netherlands.

“We’re not just coffee,” said Legg, of the business that generated $22.4 billion in sales in 2017. He discussed the wide range of risks faced by his company and how they are managed. In his unit alone there are 40 employees called “partners” responsible for cash management and investment debts. But it’s not just the risk management team who manages risks, he explained. There are strategic, market, operational, reporting, and compliance risks with layers of goals, liabilities, financing, and insurance. Worker’s compensation costs alone total about $72 million, he said.

He also spoke about risk financing, explaining that future risk managers have to understand what drives risks and lawsuits and to make sure businesses are accountable. “Success depends on the value of the brand,” he said, “We are all risk managers. Own your mistakes and take accountability.”

The Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast participants (l, r) Marianne Lindsey, Shaunta Hyde, Ann Ardizzone, Mark Soleta.

In a response to business leader and manager requests for more information on how to work with millennials, the Carson College Power Breakfast convened a panel of four executives who shared insights on their companies’ hiring practices and relationships concerning millennial employees.

Ann Ardizzone, supply chain vice president of Alaska Airlines, said millennials comprise a third of the culture at Alaska, with many of the IT employees working remotely. The 86-year old company develops apps to help its millennial workforce communicate effectively and holds events that are meaningful to them.

Megan Hansen, senior vice president of people at MOD Pizza, said MOD makes a significant effort to hire youth who are undereducated and underemployed to give them an enlightened sense of capitalism and purpose. “Part of our culture is creating a space where people feel they are part of something bigger than themselves,” she said. She said MOD offers cafeteria style flexibility to accommodate workers’ diverse needs.

Dan Spaulding, chief people officer of Zillow Group, said it’s important to understand the complexities of millennial employees and to not stereotype them. “Millennials are the number 1 home buyers and expect you to think differently about their problems,” he said. “In the workplace, we focus on being flexible and transparent; companies either have to adapt or die.”

Cole Morgan, CEO and cofounder of Snap! Raise and Snap! Mobile, creates a family environment within his organization, with themed spirit days and a fully-stocked fridge. Employees may also bring guests to work. But it’s not all about comfort. “During interviews, we count how many times the prospective employee uses the word ‘help’—as in they want to help someone,” he said. “If you give the right people the right tools, they can grow. We are always thinking about how we can evolve with millennial consumers.”

Business Technology Symposium

Business Technology Symposium panelists offered students and the public a glimpse of what is possible as a professional in the tech industry. Kashif Ansari, vice president of Americas enterprise presales for Dell EMC, studied premed in college but had a secret passion for technology. He switched majors and found his way into the tech industry. Today, he manages Dell EMC’s 600-member presales team across the United States and Canada. To stay current on tech topics, he advised having one industry mentor and one out of the industry, staying abreast of social media tech topics, and using MeetUp, a networking app that allows people with similar interests to connect.

Megan Bigelow (’07 MIS), director of customer reliability engineering at Heptio, said she entered the tech field to achieve financial independence. She spoke about her struggles to obtain equal pay and described how she broke an unhealthy cycle of work related stress by creating Portland Women in Tech, a nonprofit organization that provides a supportive community for over 5,000 women in tech. “Learn empathy, understand others’ struggles are unique, and understand your own biases,” she said.

Frank Harrill, director of security for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, was in the military and had a career with the FBI before working for Schweitzer. “Security is everyone’s job today,” he said. “For every CEO or board decision maker, IT security is top of mind.” Those interested in the field should be able to understand basic hardware and concepts like threat modeling and be able to discuss them during an interview, he said. He recommended students take time every day to learn something new by reading blogs such as Wide Commentator or Hacker Review, among others.

Cameron Schwartz, systems engineering manager for Dell EMC, served as the symposium emcee.