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.

 

 

Curt Willener.
Curt Willener.

The College of Business prepares people to measure up against the best, says Curt Willener, this year’s Distinguished Early Career Business Professional.

The Hillsboro resident should know. Three years after his OSU graduation, he was accepted into the MBA program at Harvard Business School.

“OSU was on my list, but since I’d gone there as an undergraduate, I wanted a new experience,” who at the time was working at a mill in Albany. “I had just gotten done with a super dusty, 14-hour shift when I talked to (Dean) Ilene (Kleinsorge) about going to graduate school. I think I got her office dirty. But she was so open to talking with me and supporting me, and Ilene wrote a recommendation letter that helped me get into Harvard.

“You’re always a little nervous with something like that, but Ilene said don’t worry, we prepared you, and she was absolutely right,” Willener said. “The top students at Oregon State can compete anywhere in the world against anyone.”

For Willener, now operations manager and Danaher Business System leader at Tektronix/Danaher, the route to OSU began on Sauvie Island, where from age 12 to 18 he worked at a local farm and kennel. After graduating from Scappoose High School, he followed in the footsteps of his OSU alum father, Henry, and headed to Corvallis.

Willener graduated in management and finance from OSU in 2004 and earned a place in a Weyerhaeuser program designed to develop new leaders. Within a few months he was the night-shift supervisor, winning over the older, more experienced workers by “treating them with respect and giving them a fair shake” and “approaching situations with humility and common sense.”

“Listening is a really big part of it,” he said. “People respect you for it.”

Willener will be honored May 11 in Portland at the college’s annual Celebration of Excellence, along with the rest of the 2015 award winners as well as the retiring Kleinsorge. For more on the event and the honorees, follow the College of Business blog as the countdown to the celebration continues over the next couple of weeks.

The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards presentation. For more information or to register, contact Elsa Frey at elsa.frey@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-6648, or register online at http://business.oregonstate.edu/awards.

Katie Haakenson.
Katie Haakenson.

When Katie Haakenson was still an intern, Boeing tasked her with creating and hosting a conference for the company’s project managers in the Puget Sound area.

The idea was for them to talk about methodologies they’d used and lessons they’d learned.

About 20 people attended.

“Everyone thought it was very valuable and said, we want to do that again,” said Haakenson, who earned a finance degree from Oregon State in 2009 and added an MBA a year later. “So the next year when we hosted the Boeing Project Management Conference, it went from 20 to about 100, and they came from all across the country. The third year, there were more than 300 from around the world. The event still goes on, and all the project managers look forward to it. It’s pretty cool to be able to say I started it.”

The creativity, leadership skills and organizational savvy that Haakenson used in developing the conference are among the reasons she’s this year’s Distinguished Young Business Professional.

“I think it’s a great honor,” she said. “Any success I’ve had reflects back to my experiences at OSU.”

Haakenson, hired as a permanent employee after starring in her internship, spent nearly four years with Boeing at the Everett (Wash.) Delivery Center. She’s now a project leadership associate with Point B Management Consultants in Seattle, having started there in January following one-year stints at Microsoft and Logic 20/20, also a Seattle-based consulting firm.

The bustle of Seattle represents a stark change from Haakenson’s youth in Corbett, Ore., where her graduating class at Corbett High featured 45 people.

Choosing Oregon State after a campus visit and conversations with faculty made her feel at home, she worked two jobs to pay for school and still graduated in three years, then stayed a fourth year and collected an MBA.

“I really liked the IBP (integrated business plan) program, and I wanted some additional time with College of Business faculty since I’d learned so much as an undergraduate,” Haakenson said.

She mentioned in particular professor Erik Larson, who taught Haakenson project management, and professional development instructor Gene Young, whose lessons “helped me get positions that on paper I didn’t have enough experience for by defining and highlighting what I could bring to the table.”

“Going to OSU was a great experience, and the connections I’ve kept with the university are very valuable for me,” she said. “I don’t think I could have made a better choice.”

Matt Spathas with his wife and four children.
Matt Spathas with his wife and four children.
Matt Spathas with his wife and four children.

The son of an OSU-educated entrepreneur and a graduate of the same Portland high school that produced Linus Pauling, Matt Spathas’ trail to Corvallis was blazed early on.

“My dad told me, ‘You can go to any college you want, but the only one I’ll help you pay for is Oregon State,’” he said.

Four decades later, there’s little doubt in Spathas’ mind that his father really did know best.

“I’m really grateful for the education I received at Oregon State,” said Spathas, this year’s Distinguished Service Award winner.

Spathas, College of Business class of 1980, is one of three managing principals at SENTRE Partners, a San Diego-based firm that describes itself as “Stewards and Entrepreneurs of Real Estate.” He’s been with the company for 21 years and in his career has had a hand in more than $2.5 billion in transactions.

But what stands out for Spathas isn’t dollars or buildings, it’s “the mentors I’ve had along the way, and second to that are the relationships that we’ve built.”

Spathas grew up in southeast Portland, where his family operated Claudia’s Tavern. His father, Gene, had opened the saloon on Hawthorne Boulevard in 1958, fulfilling a promise to put his bride’s “name up in lights.”

“It wasn’t exactly what she had in mind,” Spathas joked.

As a senior, Spathas was named athlete of the year at Washington High School – where the principal was former OSU football All-American Bill Gray.

After earning his degree, Spathas landed a job as a sales associate with Portland commercial real estate firm Norris, Beggs & Simpson. There he found mentors in Clayton Hering, now the company chairman, and another OSU alum, Joe Wood, who’d earned the nickname “Mr. Downtown.”

“He was legendary,” Spathas said. “He’d leased virtually every new high-rise that had been built in Portland.”

After two years, Spathas and wife, Kristen, also an Oregon State graduate, moved to San Diego, where Spathas became a marketing principal for Trammell Crow, the nation’s biggest commercial development company. He joined SENTRE Partners in 1994.

Spathas will be honored May 11 in Portland at the college’s annual Celebration of Excellence, along with the rest of the 2015 award winners as well as retiring Dean Ilene Kleinsorge. For more on the event and the honorees, follow the College of Business blog as the countdown to the celebration continues over the next couple of weeks.

The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards presentation. For more information or to register, contact Elsa Frey at elsa.frey@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-6648, or register online at http://business.oregonstate.edu/awards.

weatherford awardRyan Hildebrand never set out to define himself as an entrepreneur, and Tim Hildebrandt doesn’t necessarily think of himself that way, either.

Labels aside, their innovative excellence has earned each of the College of Business graduates a 2015 Weatherford Award.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Hildebrand said. “I’m very humbled.”

Added Hildebrandt: ““It means a lot to me,” he said. “The past winners are so accomplished, I don’t think I’m in the same category as those guys yet. But I’m honored to be recognized, and excited.”

Hildebrand is a cofounder of Seed, an online and mobile banking service for startups headquartered in Portland and San Francisco. Prior to Seed, he was vice president of finance for Simple Finance, a similar type of company whose target clientele is 18- to 30-year-old consumers; while at Portland-based Simple he hired Hildebrandt to be the company’s controller.

Hildebrandt and Hildebrand worked together on the $117 million deal that saw the startup acquired by Spanish banking giant BBVA.

“Some people say they want to be entrepreneur, like it’s some kind of title, and it often ends up having a connotation based around ego, and that’s not what I believe in,” said Hildebrand, who left Simple to try his own startup, Seed. “Some people are not meant to start their own companies but they can be effectively innovative within their organization or doing whatever they’re doing. For me, entrepreneurship is starting something new, whatever it is — thinking through how the status quo is and trying to change it for the better.”

That mission statement also describes Hildebrandt, who now has Hildebrand’s old job at Simple.

“Tim is an excellent accountant, and what he was able to do was take those excellent skills and experiences and bring it into an innovative environment and apply it directly to something that didn’t exist,” College of Business Dean Ilene Kleinsorge said.

Hildebrandt and Hildebrand will be honored May 11 in Portland at the college’s annual Celebration of Excellence, along with the rest of the 2015 award winners as well as the retiring Kleinsorge.

The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards presentation. For more information or to register, contact Elsa Frey at elsa.frey@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-6648, or register online at http://business.oregonstate.edu/awards.

For more on the event and the honorees, follow the College of Business blog as the countdown to the celebration continues.

 

Stephen Bailey with wife Marian and other members of their family.
Stephen Bailey with wife Marian and other members of their family.

Stephen Bailey had gravitated toward Oregon State partly because he was a Beaver sports fan, and as graduation neared, he came to realize his choice of universities was fantastic for academic and career purposes, too.

“It became apparent when I got a job offer,” said Bailey, who completed his accounting degree in 1970. “That’s a little bit tongue in cheek, but it’s not far from right. I think I was offered five different jobs coming out of Oregon State. Oregon State within the profession had a high level of awareness because graduates had demonstrated an expertise.”

Bailey had grown up on a Tillamook farm and developed an affinity for Oregon State while following the exploits of all-America end Vern Burke, who in 1962 had the best receiving season the NCAA had yet seen, and quarterback Terry Baker, that year’s Heisman Trophy winner.

A football and basketball player for the Tillamook High Cheesemakers, Bailey arrived in Corvallis ready to meet any challenge, prepared by his duties on the family’s 120-cow dairy.

“That type of environment gives a lot of life lessons, and the primary one is work ethic,” Bailey said. “You don’t shy away from hard work, and in one form or another you pick up a number of job skills along the way. I was left from time to time running the farm by myself while my father was away, and shouldering that load gives you a keen awareness of what responsibility is and how you carry it.”

After completing his degree, Bailey went to work with Touche Ross & Co. (now known as Deloitte & Touche) as a CPA and audit manager. That was the springboard for a long career, capped by a 10-year stretch at Flir Systems, the thermal-imaging company he helped turn around from the brink of failure, that earned Bailey induction this year into the College of Business Hall of Fame.

He’ll be honored May 11 in Portland at the college’s annual Celebration of Excellence, along with the rest of the 2015 award winners as well as retiring Dean Ilene Kleinsorge. For more on the event and the honorees, follow the College of Business blog as the countdown to the celebration continues over the next couple of weeks.

The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards presentation. For more information or to register, contact Elsa Frey at elsa.frey@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-6648, or register online at http://business.oregonstate.edu/awards.

OSU Enactus in Nicaragua.
High-fives from Nicaraguan children were among the highlights for the OSU Enactus group.

For eight members of OSU Enactus, winter break meant a trip to someplace warm, but not to rest and relax.

Enactus is an international group through which university students work to discover their own potential while helping to improve the economic situation of others, and the Beaver chapter of the organization sent a contingent to Nicaragua for continued work on a microloan program there. OSU Enactus has made multiple journeys to Nicaragua, including one last July.

“There were many heartwarming stories that gave us contentment for all of the hard work that had been put in,” Garret Flowers reported on the OSU Enactus blog.

One of them involved a woman named Andrea Sanhante, who has a business that sells tortillas, beans and cheese to community members.

“We were inspired by her work ethic and her ability to multitask with her career and her family,” Flowers wrote. “It is amazing to see how the program impacted her small business. She has said that she has increased her profits by nearly 50 percent.”

For more blog posts from OSU Enactus members, check out http://osuenactussuenosdelatierra.wordpress.com/, and for more information on the organization, send an email to enactus@oregonstate.edu