Welcome to 2016 at the College of Business, and we wish all of you the greatest successes in the year ahead.

But before we all get too immersed in the coming 12 months, here’s a quick look back at the top 10 highlights the college experienced in 2015. In no particular order (we’ll leave the rankings to you), here they are:

— Guest speaker lineup that includes design-thinking guru Barry Kudrowicz, international business CEO and ethicist Joe Lobbato and Israeli diplomat Ido Aharoni entertains and enlightens Austin Hall audiences.

— Online/Portland hybrid MBA program produces first class of graduates.

— Seaweed that tastes like bacon, the subject of an MBA student group’s integrated business plan, takes the nation by social media storm (the celebrated plant is known as dulse).

— Business Expo packs every floor of Austin with potential employers.

— Change in leadership atop the college as Mitzi Montoya takes over as dean following Ilene Kleinsorge’s retirement.

— COB students organize, stage TEDxOregonStateU, which packs the LaSells Stewart Center for a night of “Disruption.”

— OSU students dominate Duck counterparts in Civil War Shark Tank.

— Celebration of Excellence crowns new Hall of Famer (Stephen Bailey) while honoring college’s best and brightest.

— Oregon State Investment Group contingent meets “King of Private Equity” Stephen Schwarzman during annual trip to New York.

— Marketing professor Jim McAlexander receives KEDGE Business School’s “20 Years On” research prize for his 1995 ethnography on Harley-Davidson consumers. The prize recognizes research that has “paved the way for significant development within a field or a scientific approach.”

Best of the rest: COB alum Jaymes Winters serves as the kickoff speaker at the opening of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center; OSU Advantage Accelerator continues work with entrepreneurs, startups; employers fill loge level at Reser Stadium to network with students.

Keith Robertson
MBA student Keith Robertson is wrapping up his first term in Corvallis after moving west from Missouri.

Keith Robertson of Kansas City, Mo., had never been to Oregon before deciding to pursue an MBA in commercialization at Oregon State University beginning fall term 2015. The owner of a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Missouri (class of 2012), Robertson is loving his time in the Beaver State, even if it did mean being 2,000 miles away from the Royals’ World Series celebration, and even if the Corvallis weather has gotten a bit damp of late.

Robertson, the subject of the latest installment of our REAL People of the College of Business series, took some time the Friday of dead week to talk about his decision to head west and how the transition is going so far:

“When I was looking at grad schools, I had a few criteria, and one of them was an accelerated program. OSU does a good job of catering both to students to have to keep working and who want to be full-time students, so for me I could be here nine months, get in, get the knowledge I was looking for and get back into the job world.

“Another area that’s different from other schools is here you can specialize down a track. Other universities offer MBAs that are more generic, so if I could leave here with a major and an emphasis, I thought that would be useful.

“It’s extremely fast paced. I’m taking five courses per quarter, so it’s like more than a full workload, but an accelerated program was one of my primary criteria, and I enjoy my teachers and my classes.

“I enjoy Corvallis, and I try to take advantage of state — any dry weekend. I just purchased my first rain jacket, so I look like a local – I guess I came a little unprepared to battle the elements. The campus is nice, and Austin Hall is high tech and state of the art. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about my new journey, though I did miss being in Kansas City for the Royals winning the World Series.”

 

Benny Kuo
For his MBA studies, Benny Kuo chose Oregon State over his undergrad alma mater, Willamette, in part because of all the opportunities a large, research university has to offer.

Our weekly REAL People of the College of Business series continues today with first-year MBA student and accomplished vocalist Benny Kuo.

Kuo (the U is silent), a first-generation university student, grew up in Bellevue, Wash., and earned a bachelor’s degree in music while minoring in economics at Willamette University in Salem.

Here’s more of his story, in his own words:

“I went to Willamette so I could study to be a music educator, and as I joined clubs and joined a fraternity, I learned a lot more about myself. I stepped away from the music education side and switched to general music and liberal arts – I’d been so tunnel vision on the music education side that I didn’t look at my other strengths, and one of my strengths was fixing computers.

“After graduating from Willamette I worked for the IT department for Garten Services, a recycling facility in Salem, and I realized that for everything I wanted vertically in the IT world, I’d need to learn more skills, learn to code, learn to be a manager, and an MBA seemed most relevant.

“I learned I had a lot to offer in leadership in high school, and that drove me to continue that in college. Through that I learned that I loved it, that I’m passionate about it and good at it. I’m organized and goal oriented, and I’m hoping to go into strategic management, organizational management, work with organizations in crisis mode, and also organizations that are doing well but could do better.

“There are so many options here at OSU, that’s what I love about it. What I wanted, OSU is able to offer. I’m still learning about all the resources we have here, and I guess intrigued would be the right word about how many resources students do have, resources they maybe didn’t even know were possible. Like at the Valley Library, you can check out GoPros if you want to do something like climb Mount Hood.

“In five or 10 years I would like be working with a tech firm that really is impactful in how we use technology, kind of changing the way technology works in our lives, the recycling of technology, being green, a firm that educates the public about how much power their technology needs. I love being able to educate people about how to upgrade their computer and how to save money that way.”

Benny Kuo
Kuo has a passion for educating people regarding the technologies integral to their lives.

 

Stonehill Exchange students line up for a group photo.
Stonehill Exchange students line up for a group photo.

The Vue in Corvallis last Friday was the site of a pair of welcome to the College of Business events for two groups of students.

First, a late-afternoon reception was held in honor of the international students enrolled at Oregon State this term through the Arthur Stonehill International Exchange Program.

The Stonehill program is a 30-year partnership that originally featured OSU, a university in Denmark and another in Australia. Named for the College of Business professor emeritus who spearheaded its creation, the program now includes a dozen institutions outside the U.S.; those are the schools where Friday afternoon’s guests of honor study when not taking classes overseas.

Following the Stonehill gathering was a welcome reception for new MBA students.

The MBA program features seven tracks on campus — accountancy, business analytics, commercialization, global operations, marketing, research thesis and wealth management — plus an online/Portland hybrid format through which executive leadership and business analytics can be studied.

The View from the Vue.
The View from the Vue.
MBA candidates take their seats before the graduation ceremony in Stirek Auditorium.
MBA candidates take their seats before the graduation ceremony in Stirek Auditorium.

Eighty-eight students representing eight nations were recognized June 13 for having completed their MBA studies during the 2014-15 school year. The Oregon State MBA program features eight different tracks, and the graduation ceremony honored students from all eight: research thesis, commercialization, business analytics, marketing, accountancy, wealth management, global operations and executive leadership.

Prior to the ceremony, six MBA graduates one other College of Business student were inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an international honor society serving schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The inductees were Sinae Cho, Casey Miller, Yuriy Mikitchenko,  Gary Phibbs, Kevin Russell, Halley Todd, and Phil Walter.

Erick Frack, president of Katapult Partners, LLC, and a 1981 College of Business graduate, delivered the keynote address at the MBA graduation ceremony. Frack’s talk centered around leadership, which he believes centers around caring about other people and listening to them.

“Your ability to show yourself as a good leader will help you more than anything,” Frack said.

Three of the MBA graduates also addressed the audience: Perren Baker (business analytics), Feng Qiu (research thesis) and Lauren West (commercialization). Baker urged his cohort to strive for a work/life balance, Feng talked about the challenges of being an international student while thanking his major professor, Keith Leavitt, for changing his life, and West told her fellow graduates, “When opportunity comes knocking, always say yes.”

The ceremony also recognized Grace Berczel, Casey Miller, Thomas Nguyen, Sara Kelley and Dan McCain for completing their combined doctor of pharmacy/MBA degree.

Following the 75-minute program, graduates and their guests repaired to Austin Hall’s third floor for a reception.

It was the second celebratory event of the day at Austin Hall, which in the afternoon hosted an outdoor reception for the College of Business’ newest bachelor’s degree recipients and their families and friends. Each of the 753 graduating seniors who stopped by received a COB business card holder as a gift from the college, and the event also included a photo booth and a group picture of all of the graduates on hand.

Associate dean Jim Coakley, right, congratulates MBA graduate Ryan Perry.
Associate dean Jim Coakley, right, congratulates MBA graduate Ryan Perry.

 

 

Oregon State MBA grad Frances Chen
Oregon State MBA grad Frances Chen

Frances Chen completed her MBA from Oregon State in June and is currently working at Seattle-based Henrybuilt, a company that specializes in high-end customized kitchen systems. Chen is overseeing the company’s business development, helping them expand and increase sales by developing new sales and marketing strategies. Read about how Frances successfully transitioned from the Oregon State MBA program into what she describes as a “dream job.”

Did you complete any internships while attending OSU?

 Yes, I was working as one of the interns in the OSU Advantage Accelerator from June 2013 to June 2014. I helped clients define their target markets, then helped establish a plan to deliver their products to the market. The experience prepared me for a career in business and defined what I really want to do after college.

What was the best part of your MBA experience at Oregon State?

 The internship was a great experience for me. I was very lucky to meet lots of helpful faculty and staff members there who helped me through the MBA program and become who I am today. Bob Mayes, Jeewon Cho, Shirley Chow and John Turner all provided a nurturing environment for me to overcome challenges and apply what I learned to work and life.

What is the most significant project from completing your degree that you think will benefit you in your early career?

I think the MBA Integrated Business Plan project really helped me learn how to work as a team. In fact, in my current job, I’m responsible for organizing meetings and generating info from all departments to come up with the best possible strategy to help the entire company provide what our clients need. Also, the MBA program overall was a great opportunity and journey to reveal who I really am instead of beating around the bush, not having a goal or not knowing how to pursue my passion.

What advice would you give current and future College of Business students about how to be successful in their program and in seeking a job?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you won’t get it when you are out of college.

Don’t be afraid to slow down and think about what you really want to do.

Don’t be afraid to make decisions on your own. You’ll learn from your mistakes and failures.

Chen presents an award at the 2014 Celebration of Excellence awards banquet.
Chen presents an award at the 2014 Celebration of Excellence awards banquet.

What is your favorite thing about Corvallis?

I love the summer and fall in Corvallis, it’s so lively. Since I am in a big city now, I really miss the warm and small community feeling Corvallis offers.

What’s your favorite thing about OSU/OSU’s campus?

There’s no favorite thing. I love everything about the OSU campus! Especially the people there.

If you knew you were leaving Corvallis for good, where would you go for your last meal here? What would you order?

It’s a great question. I would definitely go to Downward Dog for their happy hour.

Do you have any “secret” talents or hobbies?

I play the piano well, but not for just anyone. I only play for close friends and family.

What are you most looking forward to in your career?

Right now, I have a perfect opportunity to tackle challenges by doing what I love — marketing and sales and learning to be a leader.  am hoping that someday very soon I can start my own business to help people/students get to where they want to be.

headshot of Wassana Yantasee
Oregon State MBA alum Wassana Yantasee, Ph.D.

Oregon State alumna Wassana Yantasee, Ph.D. has a very impressive résumé and list of accomplishments. Certainly not least among them was that Yantasee completed her MBA at night while simultaneously earning her doctorate in chemical engineering during the day.

Currently an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine, Yantasee’s research focuses on implementing nanomaterials into medicine in order to treat cancer and toxic metal exposure.

In addition to her teaching and research, Yantasee is also the president of the small biotech company PDX Pharmaceuticals that has received a fast-track Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract award from the National Cancer Institute to develop a new drug that will potentially treat cancer that becomes resistant to the standard-of-care drugs.

Logo for MBA grad Yantasee's PDX Pharmaceuticals
Yantasee’s biotech company has received an award from the National Cancer Institute to develop new drugs to combat drug-resistant cancer.

“My MBA training helps me with my career as a scientist tremendously in terms of proposal development and doing scientific research with the market and customer needs in mind,” said Yantasee. “I believe that science and business can’t be exclusive of each other.”

Yantasee says that her MBA courses prepared her for the business planning and market analysis required to secure the SBIR grants and contracts from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, and to effectively manage them afterward. Yantasee’s MBA experience is also helping her give back to the next generation of students.

“I’m most proud of being able to give all four of my current Ph.D. students free education through funding from my research grants, and my MBA training helps me with balancing budget costs effectively as well as managing people and the resources that make it possible,” said Yantasee.

Even though she grew up in Thailand, Yantasee found Oregon State to be a perfect fit. “Although I was far from home, I felt at home at OSU. The university has great student diversity, and I had opportunities to make friends from all over the world,” she said.

Yantasee’s advice for current students at Oregon State? Take advantage of information technology. “Information is so easily accessible today, allowing students to learn new things both inside and outside of the classroom,” she said.

“I received excellent education through OSU’s MBA program, and would strongly recommend it to anyone who has an opportunity,” added Yantasee.

Wassana is proof that there’s truly no limit to the uses and applications that an MBA from Oregon State will have in any career, and we’re proud to count her as an alum!

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Last Friday, nine teams of MBA students in the Commercialization and Clean Technology tracks competed in the 12th Annual MBA Business Plan Competition. The two day event brought 16 business leaders from around the state to Oregon State’s campus to judge the competition and to serve as mentors.

Each team was tasked with creating a viable business plan based off of real-world scientific breakthroughs, then presenting their business plans in a variety of competitive formats. The presentation is a culmination of their Integrated Business Plan (IBP) projects which the teams have been working on since last October.

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Oregon State MBA students wait to present their business plans at the 12th Annual MBA Business Plan Competition.

On Thursday evening at the LaSells Stewart Center, each team gave a brief “shark tank” pitch outlining their business’ market opportunities and objectives. Then, one student from each team presented their “elevator pitch” to one of the judges. This pitch is a simulation of a chance meeting with a potential investor in an elevator, whereby the seller has only 45 seconds (or about five floors) to pitch their business.

“As time intensive and energy-consuming as the Integrated Business Projects can be, the process is so valuable for our students and faculty that even though they’re very challenging projects, they’re equally rewarding,” said Ilene Kleinsorge, dean of the College of Business.

Team nine, composed of Jordan Stutzman, Wenqian Chen, Qinqing Song and Yuhang He took first place in both the shark tank and elevator pitch portions of the competition. Their business project is a technology for a storm water management company.

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From left: Yuhang He, Wenqian Chen, Qinqing Song and Jordan Stutzman took first place in both the shark tank and elevator pitch portions of the competition

The next day, each team presented their in-depth plan to the judges, who are also potential investors. Each team had 35 minutes to present before being grilled on all aspects of the endeavor. By the end of the session, teams experienced more than an hour of a high-pressure, high-stakes sales meeting. On the second day of the competition, MBA candidates Jujie Hao, Pei Yu Lu, Muchen Liu, Milo Ullstad and Siqi Chen walked away victorious for their business plan for a technology company aimed at improving prescription drug label information.

While preparing for the Business Plan Competition was very challenging, the students know the real-world benefits the projects have.

“In a cross-functional business environment, being able to get all departments on board for a new project is the key to its success,” said MBA student Sam Pincock. “Knowing how to effectively communicate to each department motivates and inspires cohesion within an organization, and the Business Plan Competition definitely helps prepare us for the challenges ahead.”

“Every MBA class has unique and special attributes,” said MBA program professor Tom Dowling. “I was very impressed by how well these students took on such challenging commercialization projects, quickly grasping the complexities and possibilities of innovative breakthroughs. This year’s class never backed down from the challenges they faced week after week, and they should be proud.”

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A huge thanks to this year’s team of judges and mentors!

It’s the dream of every entrepreneur looking to fund a new startup. You’re holding the elevator door open and in walks the investor you’ve been waiting for.

What do you say? Well, after watching the 11th annual Oregon State MBA Business Plan Competition Thursday night, here are some possible strategies:

  • Go right into the pitch, and wow them with your market research.
  • Take a quick phone call on a successful test of your product.
  • Start with an icebreaker, such as “Hey, my power was out last night, how about yours?” or “There’s a gas station down the street. The pump has one slot for your credit card and one for your 401K.”
  • Oh, and whatever you chose from above, don’t forget a business card.

Each year the Oregon State MBA Integrated Business Project teams take a real-world technology and spend nine months developing a commercialization plan around it, whether that’s a new company, product, licensing agreement or other plan.

The Business Plan Competition gives the teams a chance to present those plans in front of not only their teachers, advisors and other business professionals but the friends and family members who have watched the entire journey.

Thursday’s competition included a five-minute “Shark Tank”-style pitch to introduce the teams and technologies and the Elevator Pitch, which gave a team member 45 seconds to wow a potential investor.

Each team took a different approach, trying to get the investor’s attention while showing the best their business plan had to offer.

In the end the team of Eric Revell, Bi Tran, Raymond McGuinness, Edward Brown and Kelong Kim took first place for their presentation, including the Elevator Pitch from Brown.

In second was Yi Zhuang, josh McBee, Amanda Williams, Adam Welch and Sarah Che. Third place went to Chalo Masias, Ryan Meyer , Jenny Cheung and Michael Knapp.

Last week the Oregon State MBA Association organized its once-a-term happy hour event, bringing MBA students together in a relaxed setting to take a breath at the end of winter term.

Students had a chance to talk about projects, commiserate on the challenges of the term and just hang out and connect for a while outside of the confines of Bexell Hall (thought you’ll notice a few with papers still available).

Also, congratulations to all our students who are graduating this term. One in particular announced his end of college with authority (literally), and we gave a shout-out to him on our COB Facebook page.