Mark C. Hansen (’84 Business)
Engagement with industry and alumni partners is vital to developing students’ entrepreneurial spirit and continues to be a consistent focus of our Carson College curriculum, most notably in the annual Business Plan Competition. Not only do alumni and National Board of Advisors members serve as judges at the Pullman competition, they also volunteer to judge at international business plan competitions at Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland, China’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, and Tanzania’s Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology. This year, Judy Kolde, Paul Bayer (’82 Business) and I donated our time to travel with college faculty to support students studying at these locations and help WSU fulfill its land grant mission of provide global access to education.
Over the past 10 years, I have had the pleasure to participate in Business Plan Competition, judging several times in Pullman and once at our partner school, the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Cheng Du, China. Each year has been a great experience for me, and I’m sure I get more out of it than the talented students.
Recently, I had the chance to be on the judging panel at the Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland’s business plan competition in Brig. What struck me there was the broad representation of cultures and the unique ideas the teams put forward. It was an outstanding effort across the board. But the real fun is after the event in face-to-face conversations with students. Their enthusiasm, deep appreciation for our environment, and global perspective is refreshing.
I consider it an honor to impart the successful practices I’ve learned in my business and life experience that can help them accomplish their inspiring goals. When I interact with teams, I advise them to be absolutely clear on who they are and what differentiates their company, and to focus on providing outstanding service without trying to do it all. Prioritize, execute, evaluate, and incorporate what they learned—successes and failures—in the next iteration. Work with people they like and learn from. Expect the best from themselves and others.
Judy Kolde, founder,Sanctuary Yoga, Barre & Dance
After 20 years in leadership at Microsoft, I joined the National Board of Advisors as vice chair of the international committee. Spending my corporate career in global roles gave me a deep appreciation for complexities of international business and the importance of working across cultures. As an entrepreneur, I have great appreciation for the courage it takes to step out on your own and start a business. That is why I decided judge in the business planning competition.
Twice I traveled with a team of WSU faculty and other NBoA members to Cèsar Ritz Colleges in Brig, Switzerland, and Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania. It was extremely rewarding to build relationships with the students and deepen our partnership with local faculty. As judges, we guide the students and provide feedback on their business plans, helping them to prioritize and hone it. We select the top teams to travel to Pullman and compete in our university business plan competition. The NM-AIST students’ passion to take on the tough challenges their country faces is remarkable. The students show a lot of innovation and thought leadership. They believe in their business ideas, and I believe many can succeed, if given the right support. After all who better than the best and brightest students from Tanzania to start businesses that bring clean drinking water to the 70 percent of the population currently without access to it, or offer internet services to their rural communities and schools? It’s very inspiring to be part of this opportunity to mentor students, and I am very appreciative and enriched by the experience.
Paul Bayer (’82 Business)
As a graduate of WSU with 20-plus years in international business and 11 years living overseas in Europe and the Middle East, I was invited to join the International Board of Advisors four years ago. This year was my third participation in the Business Plan Competition, twice at NM-AIST in Tanzania and once at Cèsar Ritz Colleges Switzerland. At NM-AIST, it is gratifying to mentor and support local scientists with entrepreneurial solutions to take their ideas to market. There is nothing better than “African solutions for Africa,” a theme I reverberate at my company, United Parcel Service (UPS). Having a few days of face-to-face interaction with the students and sharing real world business insights can truly make a difference as they tackle issues many of us would take for granted: clean drinking water, access to technology, and improved health and welfare, to name a few. Education and developing future leaders are high priority initiatives in many African countries, and I’m proud WSU and the Carson College of Business are there to help them achieve those goals.