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Oregon Ethics in Business – Learning from the Best »

It’s that exciting time of year when the Oregon Ethics in Business Awards will be announced during a gala event in Portland.  Organizations – for-profit and non-profit – and individuals from around Oregon were nomiOregon Ethics in Business Willamette Universitynated for the awards.  Willamette MBA students were then charged with vetting the many nominees and writing detailed reports and summaries for the selection committee.  After several months of hard work, the 2012 finalists were announced.

Evaluating nominees for the awards program goes beyond a simple scan of mission statements.  The evaluation process, led by Professor of Management Practice Larry Ettner, involves digging deeply into the organization’s (or individual’s) culture to uncover how the concept of ethics is interpreted and embodied.  Students have an unparalleled opportunity to meet with business executives, review financial statements and ask the the “tough” questions.

The winners of the 2012 Oregon Ethics in Business Awards will be announced during the awards banquet on Wednesday, June 13 in Portland.  Follow @WillametteMBA on twitter and the hashtag #wumbaethics for up-to-the-minute news.

Finalists include:


The Collins Companies

The Collins Companies is a vertically integrated wood products firm that focuses on forestry, environmentally sensible harvesting, milling and production, and transportation. It is a 156-year-old operation with 700 employees in facilities throughout Oregon, Northern California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The Collins Companies is a private company, adhering to a strict moral code, a clear mission, purpose, vision and core values.

Wildish Companies

Wildish is a family-owned business, comprised of four companies, Sand & Gravel, Building, Paving, and Construction with over 500 employees. Wildish is located in Eugene, Oregon, but has equipment and crews throughout Oregon. From mining and crushing aggregate to bridge and highway construction projects, Wildish serves clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. The goal of the company is to provide high-quality service by being a leader in the industry, valuing employees, respecting the environment, and supporting the community.


Camp Fire Columbia

Starting in 1910 with a focus on giving girls a foundation of leadership, Camp Fire Columbia has transformed into a co-ed organization aiming at empowering youth to become leaders and positive contributors to society. Serving eight counties in the Portland region, Camp Fire Columbia provides various after-school and summer programs to over 3,000 area youth. Programs include supporting academic achievement, community engagement, building social and life skills, and developing career and college readiness.

Medical Teams International

Medical Teams International is an organization that provides medical care and relief services to communities that have been affected by disaster, whether natural or manmade. It currently operates disaster responses efforts in over 80 countries around the world and has mobile dental vans that serve people in the United States and other countries. Medical Teams International also has established the REAL.LIFE. Exhibit, located in Tualatin, Oregon, a walk-through, multi-sensory exhibit that allows people to experience what it is like for children affected by disaster, conflict and poverty.

NextStep Recycling

NextStep Recycling is a community service organization based in Eugene, Oregon. It has implemented a three-part mission, which pledges to educate and empower disadvantaged citizens by providing access to electronics, recycling electronics in an environmentally sound manner, and providing skill-training opportunities to the disadvantaged population. Since 1999, the organization has recycled over 10,900,000 pounds of electronic waste, while refurbishing over 23,000 computer systems. During that time period, over 2,300 volunteers have donated approximately 196,000 hours.

Northwest Family Services

Northwest Family Services was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1983 with a focus on providing training and educational programs to serve the community. It offers a wide range of services and programs from professional counseling, job readiness and placement, work solutions, positive youth development, youth mentoring, gang prevention, school site management, healthy relationships education, financial literacy, parenting, anger management, and many more. Northwest Family Services partners with over 150 local organizations, including twenty-five school districts.


Graham Covington

Graham Covington is the chapter founder and director of Minds Matter Portland, an organization that supports high achieving students from low income backgrounds in their pursuant of a college education. His work with Minds Matter is one of several efforts throughout his lifetime in which he has supported youth. Other examples include an SAT tutoring program at Jefferson High School and mentoring thought the Big Brother organization.

Kathy Moeller

Kathy Moeller is a certified brain injury specialist and founder of Cognitive Harmonies, a provider of cognitive prosthetic memory systems. Having suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of a 1990 head-on auto accident, she developed the Brain Book to assist her in maintaining short-term memory. Since 1993, she has shared the Brain Book with others and has trained over 400 individuals to live independently using this system.

George Rode

George Rode is the president and owner of Autohaus, Euro-Asian Automotive, and Stadium Automotive repair shops in Eugene, Oregon. In addition to servicing cars for over thirty years, he has also been involved in numerous activities within his community including: volunteering for Meals on Wheels and SCORE, membership in the Chamber of Commerce, serving on the boards of McKenzie Personnel and Eugene Police Civilian Review Board, as well as being President of the Southtown Rotary Club.

Oregon’s First Lady Talks Sustainability »

Each spring Willamette University’s Executive Development Center offers the Sustainable Enterprise Certificate (SEC) program, a unique look at the social, environmental and economic practices of sustainability.  Participants from large corporations, small not-for-profit organizations, government agencies and students have all benefited from the program’s unique content.

Oregon's First Lady, Cylvia Hayes, visits the WU Portland Center.

This year Cylvia Hayes, Oregon’s First Lady, stopped by the Willamette University Portland Center to visit the SEC program and share her insights on how sustainability influences the health and well-being of our state and local communities.

During her discussion, Ms. Hayes shared work on the Poverty to Prosperity initiative, linking a number of organizations (including local businesses) to engage in making Oregon a more livable and productive state.  Having a sustainable and clean economy, according to Hayes, involves a more preventative approach to sustainability.  This includes support of health care programs for all Oregonians and greater participation and support for education.  Once we take care of basic needs, Hays explained, future generations will benefit.

In her opinion, a more proactive discussion on sustainability that shares clean economy success stories resonates with Oregonians tired of “apocalyptic fatigue.”  She encouraged participants to take what they were learning in the program and go out to their organizations and communities to spread the word.

Learn more about Cylvia Hayes and her initiatives on her website.

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Visits Willamette, Bearcat Connection »

In early March, Bobbi Brown, CEO and Founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, paid a visit to Willamette University’s campus and delivered a rousing presentation on success and entrepreneurship.  A freelance makeup artist, Bobbi aspired to transform the look and feel of makeup for women.  She found most products looked artificial when applied and sought a way to make a more “natural” alternative – both in production and in look.

Her brand of lipstick debuted in 1991 and from that point forward Bobbi Brown Cosmetics grew into a global company.  Aquired by makeup giant Estee Lauder just four years after the company’s inception, Bobbi still maintains creative control.

Most recently, Bobbi’s story has added a new, Willamette MBA twist.  Several Willamette entrepreneurs, including Willamette MBA graduates and  College of Liberal Arts graduates, have now collaborated with  Bobbi Brown on a natural ingredient for her products.

Natural Plant Products’ corporate parent was founded in 1984 as a collaboration of 7 grass seed farms committed to developing a new crop called meadowfoam.  Since that time, the cooperative has expanded to over 50 farms stretching the length of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Meadowfoam Seed Oil has gained broad acceptance as an emollient in the global personal care industry.  Natural Plant Products’ crop selection is driven by the need to identify sustainable rotation crops for Oregon seed farmers, with an emphasis on oilseeds with novel chemistry.  The tightly held cooperative production base allows the organization to emphasize supply chain transparency, actively developing a portfolio of durable, supply assured vegetable oils for the personal care industry.

Bobbi Brown Willamette visit

Willamette MBA graduates meet with Bobbi Brown during her recent trip to Salem.

This mission resonated with Bobbi Brown and during her visit to Willamette she made it a point to meet with the “Bearcat brains” behind Natural Plant Products’ operation.

Willamette MBA International Student Receives Study Oregon Scholarship »

Willamette MBA Scholarship Recipient Hassan Reda

Hassan Reda, Willamette MBA Scholarship Recipient, enjoying the Oregon Coast

Hassan Reda, a student in Willamette’s Early Career/Career Change MBA program from Lebanon, was the recipient of a scholarship from Study Oregon.  Along with an application detailing his many accomplishments, Hassan wrote about why he enjoys living and learning in Oregon as an international student.

The Willamette University MBA program is a long-time partner of Study Oregon, an affiliation of schools in Oregon promoting programs to international students around the world.  Study Oregon uses electronic brochures, special events and targeted e-mails in their recruitment efforts.

An excerpt from Hassan’s application:

“Oregon is the first place in the U.S that I have ever visited. I have enjoyed many things during my stay so far, and would say the one thing that has really impacted me (and something the Northwest is known for) is the “people” I have met. Northwesterners leave a good impression on everyone they meet. They are very nice, always willing to help, and always greet you with a big smile.

I have also enjoyed the natural beauty of Oregon. People may have a misconception that Oregon rains a lot – but in my experience I have witnessed awesome summer weather and a magnificent fall – and the winter is not as harsh as one might think. It’s a great place to hike, ski and appreciate different aspects of nature.

As a student pursuing an MBA, I would also say that Oregon is great place to study because many big companies are headquartered here, including Nike, Adidas, Intel, and Daimler Trucks North America, among others. Oregon is also a great place for practicing sports. With a reputation as the sports hub of the U.S., Oregon is home to the headquarters of both Nike and Adidas. It is also the state of the Portland Trailblazers NBA basketball team and has one of the best soccer teams in the US, the Portland Timbers. Marathons and runs take place all the time and are fun experiences for students to enjoy. On a final note, I would want to highlight that Oregon is a very green place, not only in terms of nature but in terms of green initiatives and sustainable thinking. It is a great place to learn more about renewable sources of energy, its uses, and its applications.”

Hult Global Case Challenge Wrap-Up »

Written by Katie Skaar, Willamette MBA Team Member

Willamette MBA Team at San Francisco Regional Competition

The presentation was prepared and practiced, details of the schedule ahead were slowly leeching out, and the team from Willamette University: first-year students, Joe Garrison, Christal Lee, Casey Morgan, and Katie Skaar alongside their alumni teammate, Bradford McKeown, were anxiously excited that the weekend of February 24th had finally arrived. The team was warmly welcomed to Hult’s International Business School campus in San Francisco on Thursday where we encountered our first look at the competition. There was buzz all around- social media consultants eager to get “the stories” out, large banners, promos, and enthusiasm everywhere to be seen. Our team was competing to provide a solution for a European NGO, Solar Aid in the Energy Track alongside the following schools: California College of the Arts, University of Calgary, Northwestern University, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Rollins College, Schulich School of Business, The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Davis, UCLA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Oregon, and the University of Utah.

Friday, February 24th kicked off the competition weekend with a reception, a presentation by the representative NGO, and a chance to participate in a question and answer session with Gerrard Graf, Financial Manager for Solar Aid. The Willamette team was confident that the solution in which they were proposing, was strong, but realized that some rearrangement of emphasis would be advantageous in order to respond to the information given by Mr. Graf. Additionally, we felt that we were much more prepared than some of the other groups who didn’t come with a presentation in hand. We credit our PACE approach for our confidence and preparedness.

Preparing for action

The day of the competition included an opening ceremony kicked off by the Hult’s San Francisco Executive Director, followed by a 5-hour “case cracking” time. Originally we had been informed that new information was going to be included for this portion of the competition, but it turned out that the only “new” information that was received was from the Q&A the night before. The Willamette Team used this time to hone their presentation, create effective backup slides, and research the possible judges.

Our time was 2:30. Our room was a long corner space with a large flat screen TV. Our judges included the CEO from Blue Planet Network, CTO from IBM’s SOA Center of Excellence, a Manager of Business Architecture from Cicso, and a professor at Stanford University and expert on Climate Change. We presented for 9 and half minutes and received three questions from the judges. And then we waited. We felt our confidence increase as the smiles from the judges seemed to indicate a level of satisfaction and understanding. We knew we were competitors.

In the end, we did not qualify to move on to the finals in New York City to present in front of Bill Clinton and Muhammad Yunus. The winners, who will now compete against the track winners from the four other Hult Campuses, were Hult, Presidio Graduate School, and UC Davis for the Energy Track. We feel that we learned a lot, came home with some valuable lessons to employ for next years’ challenge, and proud that we were able to represent Willamette University. Additionally, after comparing notes with many of the other competing schools and judges, we realized that we brought one of the highest levels of competition to the challenge. AGSM had given us the tools to hang with some of the larger names, without a doubt.

Our biggest lesson learned is that for this particular competition, really challenge the case and do not feel confined by its particular assumptions and goals – challenge the clouds and offer up something BIG. This was a crowd-sourcing event that was looking for the new, not the absolutely possible. Our thought process was challenged and the energy supporting this style was infectious, next year we will know just how to frame it and will be the ones presenting to the leaders of global change.

Off to San Francisco to Compete in the Hult Global Case Challenge »

I was attending the Net Impact National Conference in Portland last October when I first heard of the Hult Global Case Challenge (HGCC), a competition to source ideas to fight poverty. After learning more about the competition, two teams of Willamette MBA candidates entered the 2012 challenge. This year’s challenge focuses on three distinct areas including education, energy, and housing.

From left: Bradford, Christal, Joe, Katie and Casey

One of Willamette’s teams was selected from about 4,000 applications to compete in the energy trek as a regional finalist later this month. Bradford McKeown (Marshfield, Oregon), Christal Lee (Temple City, California), Joe Garrison (Lansing, MI), Katie Skaar (St. Paul, MN), and Casey Morgan (Carson City, Nevada) make up the team who will travel to the regional competition. 50 teams will present solutions to fight global poverty in San Francisco February 24-25.

This is a unique opportunity to represent Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management in what has become the world’s largest crowd-sourcing initiative dedicated to solving global social challenges. Willamette’s team is assigned to the energy track and will compete against 14 other schools in this area. The team will work on business solutions for the not-for-profit organization SolarAid.

When the team arrives in San Francisco they will be given new details related to the case study and have four to five hours to customize and finalize their solutions according to this updated information. They will then present those solutions to senior executives from the private and public sectors.

Three teams from each of the five regional competitions (one from each track) will be selected and advance to the finals in New York. Selected teams will compete against schools from around the world in April.

More on the Hult Global Case Challenge
HGCC’s mission is to develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing social challenges and encourage breakthrough ideas from college and university students around the world.

The HGCC is held simultaneously around the world through a multi-tiered, international platform. Regional competitions are held in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai where more than 100 colleges and universities will be represented.

Seattle Trek »

I joined 30 other students on a trek around Seattle to meet with some of the area’s top employers and learn about opportunities available to MBA students.

Seattle Space Needle

We spent two days visiting Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Theo Chocolate, and Microsoft. Visiting these companies was very useful to learn about internships and jobs that may be available, what the culture and work environment is like in these organizations, and how to make yourself an attractive candidate during the application process.

First, we visited Alaska Air at the Sea-Tac airport. We learned about the fleet of planes, toured one plane’s engine, cockpit, and pet travel area. We learned how the airline is managed from servicing planes on the runway to making spare parts in the machine shop. We also gained insights into the corporate positions from creating financial forecasts to implementing employee lead programs.

MBA students at Alaska Airlines

Next, we met with Willamette alumni and current employees of Amazon. Located near downtown Seattle, Amazon has new office space that allows people to think creatively and collaborate. Touring the offices, we passed many whiteboards and frosted glass walls used for brainstorming and project planning. Alumni shared how much they enjoy the fast pace of the organization, working in teams, and the impact they can make on the world.

Excited about visiting Amazon

We finished day one with a tour of Theo Chocolate. We viewed the production line that starts with processing cocoa beans and ends with a packaging area where whole chocolate bars are wrapped and ready to be sold. It was exciting to hear how organic, fair trade chocolate is produced and the challenges associated with trying to maintain the quality standard used at Theo. During the tour, we tasted dark chocolates, and flavored chocolates like chili and gingerbread. We wrapped up day one in the gift shop with tasty treats.

Getting ready to tour Theo Chocolate

Day two of the trek took us to Microsoft. We met in the building that houses the Xbox Kinect division. After an initial introduction and background on the company, students broke out into groups to meet with Microsoft employees and vendors. It was motivating to hear from both full-time employees and contractors. This provided us multiple prospectives on what opportunities exist within Microsoft.

Posing with Halo characters at Microsoft

All in all, I came away with a greater knowledge and understanding of how these organizations operate and what their employees like most about their jobs. Not to mention, we all had fun spending time in Seattle soaking in some extraordinary January sun.

Fall Semester 2011 Highlights »

Students wrapped up the fall 2011 semester at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management in mid December. Many of us are using our time away from classes to enjoy the holidays, looks for jobs or internships and re-energize for spring 2012.

Considering my first semester as an MBA student, the highlight was PACE which stands for Practical Application for Careers & Enterprises. PACE is a core course where students work in teams to consult for not-for-profit and government organizations. I had the privilege of working with seven other students to consult for a not-for-profit agency in Chicago, IL.

Our team after our first PACE presentation

My team was given the opportunity to create management training modules for our client to use on a monthly basis. This experience was both challenging and rewarding. This was the first time I had been on a team with other students from a number of places around the globe. Learning how to work through cultural difference and communicate effectively are skills the MBA program helped me to learn. Developing these skills made it easier for my team to work together to conduct research and create the training modules for our client.

My team will continue to work together when spring semester begins. I look forward to continuing PACE as we maintain our relationship with our client and also begin an entrepreneurial venture!

Greetings from the Willamette MBA… »

Welcome to This is the home of the weblog for Willamette University MBA, Atkinson Graduate School of Management.  We’re excited to share insights and ideas from our faculty, staff and students.