2019 Foster School of Business Undergraduate Graduation Celebration

2019 Foster School of Business Undergraduate Graduation Celebration

October 10, 2019 2 By Stanley Isaacs


[ Cheering & Applause ] >>Wow! Wow! So that is what the next generation of business leaders looks like. [ Cheering & Applause ] >>Graduates, parents, family and friends, I am Associate Dean Steve Sefcik at the Foster school of business and it is my genuine pleasure to be here with all of you this afternoon at the special gathering. Thank you for coming to this great event. I know all of you in attendance today are extremely proud of the graduate and you are here to support. Please share your photos, thoughts and shout outs on social media sites and include # Foster grad 2019. [ Cheering & Applause ] >>As I look out across this impressive group, I think about the investment that we have made in you. The investment has many stakeholders, your family, your friends, your mentors, your advisors, your classmates and colleagues, your professors and perhaps most importantly, you. Yes, you. You have invested in your education. You have spent countless hours going to class, studying in the library, working on group projects, taking tests, writing term papers. You participated in case competitions. Some of you just last week and management 430, you have attended numerous foster events. You have worked on student consulting teams and you have anticipated in career services activities. You have helped build and service leaders and foster clubs and organizations. You have studied abroad. Yes, you have made a substantive investment in you. You have made a significant and long-term investment in your education and your future career. And like all investments, it is time for us to think about returns. After all, this is a business school. What sort of ROI will you earn? What sort of return on investment will you generate? What sort of dividends can we expect? Wait a sec. This is not about debt service. This is not about payback. That is the wrong direction. Actually, what this is about is, pay it forward. Yes, forward. Forgive the mixed metaphors but I am not talking about writing a check. I’m talking about building our brand. I’m talking about helping us make foster the best public business school in the United States. [ Cheering & Applause ] >>Yeah! I’m talking about finding a way to help students who come after you. So how, then? Come back to share your experiences with the class. Serve as a mentor for one of our clubs or organizations. Judge AK’s competition. We would love to have you do that. Help us place a student in an internship where you are from. Serve as a business expert and a social cause or a charitable organization that you believe in. The point is, share your expertise. These are the type of activities that compound your investment. These are the returns we expect and this is how you pay it forward. So what are your future goals? What can we expect from you? The Foster school of business creates futures and transforms lives. We are committed to educating and guiding talented minds towards successful outcomes. Success is evident by our employment statistics, by our long-standing partnerships with iconic Northwest companies and by our advancement of business. As a force for good, yes, so- called nobility of business. But again, I ask you, what are your goals? Where will you take this incredible education you have received? How will each of you pay it forward? This, then, is your real challenge. Will you accept it? Yes, I believe so. I sincerely believe that each of the 757 undergraduates that make up the class of 2019 will be up for that challenge. These graduates, yes! These graduates — [ Cheering & Applause ] >>I am not the only one proud of you, can you tell? These graduates are strategic thinkers who know how to roll up their sleeves and take on real-world business challenges. These graduates are passionate about making a difference. Yes, I am absolutely certain that they will leverage their phenomenal college experience to ensure extraordinary future success and impact. Yes, I am confident that each of these undergraduates, here today, has the dedication and the skills, the commitment and importantly, the honor to pay it forward. And with that, it is time to move on with our program. It is now my great pleasure to welcome a friend, a colleague, a fellow accountant to the podium, the outgoing Dean of the Michael G Foster school of business, Dean Jiambalvo . After 14 years of leadership, Jim bestows upon us a legacy note for the of rankings of state-of-the-art and business and compelling programs. He has been an epic leader. Please join me in welcoming Dean Jiambalvo . [ Cheering & Applause ] >>Good afternoon. On behalf of the faculty and staff of the Foster school of business, it is my pleasure to welcome the family and friends of the class of 2019 and congratulations, graduates, on completing a rigorous program of study, one that will prepare you for the challenges of today and form a solid foundation for the lifelong learning necessary to sustain your careers in our ever-changing business environment. The Foster school was founded in 1917 and has a long tradition of excellence and a wide geographical influence of which to be very proud. It is a distinct pleasure to welcome the class of 2019 to the ranks of Foster alumni and I hope and expect that the world of business and society will be better for your efforts to create economic opportunities for yourselves and others. Members of the class of 2019, please know you have my admiration for the hard work that led to the Foster degree and you have my very best wishes for future success. Thank you. [ Applause ] >>Thank you very much, Jim. It is now my pleasure to introduce our students speaker for today’s ceremony. [ Cheering & Applause ] >>It doesn’t sound like he needs any introduction but Sesinos Zerbabiel . He is majoring in marketing with a major minor in informatics. It was a YC student, a member of the Delta Sigma fraternity, the Malt Lake consulting group NGC three, the global business case competitions club. He studied abroad in Paris and recently returned from competing in a case competition in Thailand. I want to take a moment to share how Sesinos’s students and staff colleagues described him. An individual who embodies a level of selfishness and positive attitude that inspires anyone who comes into contact with him. He is a role model in every aspect of the word. Sesinos has this superpower and being able to bring people together whether it be a group project, the club commitments or his relationship with his friends. He carries a warm and inviting spirits wherever he goes and he leaves an indelible impression of his friendliness that makes you feel not just welcome but accepted. Sesinos is a community leader who takes ownership in making those around him better . His determination regardless of what barrier or obstacle you put in his way is unstoppable. He is thoughtful, caring and most importantly, humbled in everything he does. Upon graduation, Sesinos will be heading to New York City to join Ernst & Young as a management consultant in their digital practice! How about that?! Please join me in a warm welcome for Fosters 2019 graduating class students speaker, Sesinos Zerbabiel . [ Cheering & Applause ] >>I promised myself I wouldn’t be too emotional. Wow. Thank you, Dean, for that introduction. To start off in my native language, Tigrinya: Zi keberkumin, Zi keberkinin Ãkab ruhukin kereban inqua bi dahan metsakhum. Inqua abzi keah abtsahana. and now, back to English. Ladies and gentlemen, those from far and near – families, students, faculty, and the illustrious class of 2019, it is a great privilege and honor to be speaking before you today. Now before I get started, I would like to take a moment to honor the Coast Salish Peoples Ãthe indigenous people of the land were currently standing on. [ Cheering & Applause ]My name is Sesinos Zerbabiel. I am a proud first-generation Eritrean-American and the first in my family to be obtaining a bachelor’s degree. [ Cheering & Applause ] My story begins in Eritrea, a small country tucked in the northern part of the horn of Africa. A country where under Italian colonial rule my grandparents were only allowed to be schooled until the 4th grade on their own land. Colonialism lead to Ethiopian annexation and my parents fled Eritrea in the late 80s escaping war, genocide and instability. It was fear that pushed my mother, Tsegereda Embaye and my father, Zerbabiel Tesfamichael, out from their homes and into the unknown. They found refuge in Sudan and eventually the United States. Annexation lead to revolution, and in 1991 Eritrea after centuries of occupation gained its independence. Unfortunately, Eritrea was not able to fulfill the promise of freedom that many had sacrificed for and has now become a country that faces some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. The regime has used fear to silence, suppress and push out thousands of Eritreans who just want the opportunity to work toward bettering their lives. The only thing my family and many others knew was that they needed to leave but had no anticipation of where they would end up. You see anything was better than the status quo, and the only thing that keeps them going, the only thing stronger than fear is hope. I can’t help but think how privileged we are to not only receive an education, but to use it to propel us into opportunities that will better our lives. But most importantly it’s our ability to dream and accomplish anything we put our minds to. Something my people haven’t been able to do for generations. Like many Immigrants, my parents came with very little, but they have sacrificed everything to create a foundation for my siblings and I. Whether it was my mother waking up at 2 AM every morning only to come home after work and take us to soccer & swimming practices on limited to no sleep. My father only getting to see us on mornings before school and weekends, as they planned their work schedules to be opposite so there was always 1 parent at home. They gave us everything they never had, and everything we ever needed and for that I am forever grateful. [ Cheering & Applause ] Through their sweat and tears they’ve fostered and instilled the values of hard-work, responsibility, resilience, humility, patience, community, culture, and giving back. I always knew I had to do my part, as my family and community have done for me. That, I have a responsibility to uplift others as I climb the ladder many of us call the American Dream. Throughout the remainder of this speech I want you to think about where you’re from, where you are, and where you’re going. For my parents, fear for their lives pushed them away from their homes and into the unknown. They had to stay hopeful for a better future. I want you all to think about some of your fears or roadblocks that you feel are preventing you from getting to where you need to be. Allow me to tell you a story of when I had to deal with one of my fears. Now flashback to senior year of high schoolb& We’re wrapping up an important milestone in our lives Ãjust as we are today. We’re excited about being adults, getting into our dream schools, as UW was for me. Through my involvement with UW’s amazing high school programs such as Young Executives of Color and being a Seattle-native, I romanticized being here like it was going to be my gateway for better opportunities. I felt that my success depended on me being here. But as spring came around, I faced one of my worst fears. A rejection from UW. Now this fear was different than that of my parents and grandparents. It wasn’t fear for my life, it was a fear of thinking I wasn’t worthy enough. I was the first after generations to have started schooling where there weren’t these harsh realities deviating me from success. I was heartbroken. You see this rejection wasn’t just about me. Being a first-generation college student is also about fighting the injustices and inequalities that the world has created for so many groups of people Ãand especially for those that came before me while also easing the path for those that will come after me. The feeling of betrayal and rejection haunted me Ãnot only did I feel like I failed myself, but even worse I felt like I failed my family, my friends, and my community. Fear can oftentimes consume our thoughts, and it can be one of the hardest things we have to deal with or overcome. This moment was one of my biggest tests. I knew I had to find another way to pursue an education. I was determined to fulfill my dreams and I refused to take no as an answer, so I appealed but once again faced rejection. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be speaking here before you, let alone graduating from the very institution that denied me, not once but twice. I let the decision of institutions define and limit my definition of success. I knew I had no choice but to pursue higher education, but it was hard to do so when I felt like a failure. I moved across the country to attend George Mason University. It was tough to swallow the fact that I wasn’t at UW, but the second I changed my perspective of what getting an education meant, my experience changed for the better. I quickly realized it was the place I needed to be at that point of time in my life. I eventually realized I had outgrown my environment. I longed for a different pace and set of experiences to continue growing while also trying to save on tuition. During my junior year I decided that it was no longer worth it. I moved back to Seattle at the end of 2016 with nothing lined up, but with the anticipation of finishing my bachelor’s degree in-state. I attended Seattle Central as I finished some prerequisites before I could apply to schools. I went about the application process very strategically, as I made sure to limit any opportunity for rejection. I put in my 100% and was extremely patient with myself and the decision I made to deviate from the traditional path. I wasn’t always sure I was making the right decision, but I kept reminding myself of who I was, why I left and where I was going. From the second I moved back to Seattle, I have been welcomed with open arms by some of our amazing advisors who have been there as support and guidance as I figured out my academic journey. A year later, and despite the constant doubt, difficulties and patience Ãmy dream became my reality. I was accepted to the University of Washington and directly into the Foster School of Business. But it was different this time Ãthis moment didn’t fulfill my dream Ãmy dreams lied elsewhere, and this opportunity and this institution would help me get there. Once here, I hit the ground running as I knew I only had 5 quarters until graduation. Since being here ÃI’ve felt challenged, made some great memories like traveling the world, destressing at Wells Wednesdays, and most importantly I was able to reconnect with the community I had left just a few years earlier. A part of me doesn’t want to leave yet, but then the student loan emails have started to come in and somebody has to pay those off haha Through all the adversity I faced ÃI knew I could depend on my family. My community. My people. I’m a strong believer in that it takes a village to raise a child. Lucky for us, many of us have our village right here with us in the audience. I wanted to take a moment to recognize our biggest supporters. Though our degrees come with our names, it’s also important to recognize its been impacted and manifested through our experiences and people we’ve encountered throughout our lives. Today – our families and communities are also gaining a degree. So congratulations to you all as well. My experiences have taught me my biggest lesson. My self-worth. I hope your life experiences have taught you the same. That no school or company can or will define you. Only you have the power to define yourself. Many of you are off to start your jobs, grad school or are taking some time off. I leave you with this message. Fear is something to overcome. For my parents Ãfear drove them from their homes, and fear was something they had to overcome when they moved to a place that was completely foreign to them. For me I faced it when I didn’t find myself worthy enough and I thought my rejections defined me as a failure. Whether you know what comes next or not. Knowing your self-worth will make you unstoppable. It lets you advocate for yourself because you know you deserve the best. Don’t let anything hold you back, don’t let any institution define or limit your definition of success, and most importantly stay true to yourselves. As long as you know who you are, you will never be lost. Graduation is an opportunity to reflect back at our many years of stress, adversity and achievements. Graduation is also a step closer to accomplishing our dreams. For me, this is one step closer to fighting the same barriers I and many others face from within. But also, a step closer to empowering and giving back to the same communities that gave so much to me. May you embark on your lives with dignity, intention, and humility. Remember your roots, and never forget where you came from. Remember to be critical, stay true to your values and be an advocate for those who may not have the same privileges as you do. Remember that there are some serious barriers still in place that are preventing so many people from being successful. Yiakil. Enough to the injustices that my people face in Eritrea and enough to the systematic racism & oppression that my fellow minorities face here in this country. [ Cheering & Applause ] We all have a choice to stand up for the injustices we see in the world and in our daily lives. We especially have the power as future business leaders to change the heart of capitalism from exploitation to empowerment. To empower disadvantaged communities, to empower immigrants, to empower women and especially women of color. We need to learn from the mistakes that many have made before us. Our country is facing some of the worst income disparities the world has ever seen Ãit is obvious that American individualism is doing us more harm than good. If we can help change the fabric of that reality from me to we ÃI promise you that all 700 of us graduating here today have the power to leave this world a better place. And we can do that together. As I’m leaving, I wanted to say thank you to the amazing peers, mentors, teachers, friends, and family who have left a mark on me throughout my life. I want you all to stand and applaud, not for me, but for the people who have impacted you. Your families, your village, your tribe. Together, we stand for our communities and we stand for changing the heart of capitalism I wish you all the best of luck as you charge onward. Thank you, and Congratulations Class of 2019!!!!! [ Cheering & Applause ]>>That is going to be a hard act to follow but I now had the privilege to introduce Dan Baty , and accounting grab from Foster school and has a law degree from Harvard. Dan has had a remarkable career and has achieved great success across such diverse fields as healthcare, wealth management and in the wine industry. At 26 years old, he took on the job of running the small chain of nursing homes called Hill Haven. When the company was sold, it was the second largest nursing home company. He later found senior living and following its merger with Brookdale Senior living, it became the nation’s largest network of senior care providers with 1000 facilities and 80,000 employees. In 1989, and founded Columbia Pacific management and this company has developed a network of modern hospitals throughout Asia. He was also an early investor in the Washington wine industry, the Beatty family presently owns 4500 acres of vineyards in Washington, Oregon and Idaho as well as precept brands which is one of the largest privately owned wine companies in the Northwest and I believe it is the 12th largest, nationally. He has started numerous companies over his outstanding business career and I will mention just one more, Columbia Pacific wealth management providing comprehensive wealth management strategies for high worth individuals and foundations and has approximately 3.5 billion in management. Finally, known for his third life to be with his time and resources. This includes the University of Washington Medical Center, the Foster school of business, the Seattle Symphony, the Pacific Northwest ballet, child Haven and the juvenile diabetes research foundation. Please join me in a warm welcome for uniquely talented business leader, Dan Baty . [ Applause ] >>My inclination is just to say ditto. Congratulations to all of you and this is a huge honor for me to be here and I think you. ÃA day to celebrate what you have accomplished and also to kick off what you are going to do. A couple of weeks ago, my wife Pam and I were getting our vegetable garden ready to plant. I hadn’t started thinking about what I was going to say – kind of out of nowhere, two words popped into my head à experience & risk. Two key elements in building a business career. II. All of our experiences contribute to building a base of knowledge and approach to managing events. A. Think of where you are today as compared to when you started as a freshman. 1. Apart from what you have learned, think of the education process and how you have managed what major, what courses, how you interacted with professors. 2. How different professors have managed their approach to teaching. 3. Consider your interaction with a diverse group of students coming from all kinds of backgrounds. 4. Sports, music, hobbies, work, family – all provide experiences that expand your capacities. III. Looking at my own business career from a personal standpoint, it got me to think about some experiences that were most important in providing a basis and ongoing ground work for decisions I have made and risks I have taken. A. My education was targeted at a business career. 1. Majored in accounting at University of Washington but took all the philosophy classes I could. 3. At University of Washington Ãliving for 4 years with 100 guys from diverse backgrounds provided a very different kind of positive experience. B. The summer between graduating from University of Washington and starting law school in Boston, I flew to Lisbon, bought a motor scooter and spent the next 2 months traveling throughout Europe and England. 1. Being by myself for this time gave me a greater appreciation of friends and family. IV. Shifting to experience on the business side – A. At 26 à became CEO of small healthcare company in Tacoma 1. Over the next 12 years, built it up to be the largest senior healthcare company in the United States with revenues going from 9M to 1B (today’s dollars). 2. Everything was new to me à operations, accounting, finance and HR. 3. At the start and along the first few years Ãmost importantly culture. B. Using this experience and always adding to it, basically replicated on a larger basis 5 times. 1. Businesses were all a little different but basic approach was the same. 2. But doing business in the UK and France added to new experiences. C. My main point is that the broader the experiences, whether business or life, all contribute to our ability to be successful and have an interesting life Ãtake advantage of all your opportunities. V. Risk -A. At 42, I quit the company I had been with for 12 years without a specific plan of what I was going to do. 1. I had been investing in a small company developing and operating independent living facilities for seniors. 2. My partner had his own construction company that along the way got into financial trouble and I signed a guarantee for many millions of debt for a business I had no financial involvement but was important element to the whole. 3. Obviously, this was a huge risk. 4. We sold the operating company 8 years later for a very large price. B. In building several companies, there is always the financial risk and that is what is generally focused on. 1. Equally important are the other risks – a. Conceptual risk Ãdid we get it right? b. Operating risk Ãdo we have the right people? c. What is legal system risk? i. In India it takes 5-10 years to resolve a lawsuit. d. What is political environment Ãrisk? e. Currency risk 2. Early on we built major operating healthcare business in UK & France. 3. In the last 15 years Ãhave built and operate 30 hospitals in India, Malaysia and currently 3 senior buildings and 1 hospital in China, 4. Africa Ãclinic in Nairobi and about to start first hospital. C. Main thing is understanding the risks and how to mitigate 1. We have leveraged these experiences to where we are a significant healthcare provider for half the world’s population. E. What has allowed us to be there is our experience in all facets of business and our relative comfort in managing risk. VI. Going back to the beginning à value your experiences in all aspects of life. A. Couple that with keen understanding of managing risk. B. For what it is worth Ãfrom a business perspective – at your age, maximize your experiences and develop an approach to managing risk. I would like to take this opportunity, the most important thing is appreciate your family and friends. Thank you. [ Cheering & Applause ] >>Thank you, Dan and thank you for your inspiring and motivational words. Now it is time for the formal and recognition part of our program. Faculty, please take your positions. I would like to invite each of the graduates to take the stage so that we can recognize you individually. Ushers will welcome you one at a time to come to the left and right-hand sides of this stage. When your name is called, please join me or the Dean by crossing to the center of the stage I would like to welcome the chairman of the accounting department and incoming Dean who will read each of the names of today’s graduates. [ Reading names ] >>Yeah! Outstanding! Faculty, please return to your seat. Way to go! What a group! Way to go. All right! Well, congratulations to all of you. Grads, let’s take a moment to think family, friends and supporters for making today possible. [ Cheering & Applause ] okay. Hey, I got an idea. How about a little managerial accounting, just for fun? What?! You remember your manufacturing floor cost? Indulge me! All kidding aside, I have often remarked that each of you being honored today came to us as raw material. Raw material in the sense that you are ready to learn new ideas and ready to experience new challenges and as you were transferred into a working process, our esteemed faculty then added doses of labor and overhead. Some of you require a bit more labor than others. Now, I am proud to say that I look out at all of you and think of you as finished goods. It is just a metaphor! Finished goods in the sense that you are individuals poised to become the next generation of business leaders no matter where you choose to journey. You are what we make and you are our product. That is all I mean by that. But as our product, you now bear a special patina. A patina, purple and gold, comes from immersing yourself in the education and the opportunities that are a part of the Foster school experience. And with that, I ask all graduates to participate in the ceremonial tradition of turning the tassel. Graduating seniors, please rise! Please move your tassel from the right side of your cap to the left side. That is the debit side. Congratulations !!! please be seated. Please be seated. To say that I am proud of you today is putting it mildly. My colleagues and I are honored to call you graduates and alumni. Now, go out there and continue to do the great things we expect from you. Make us proud. That brings us to the end of the celebration. I ask that all of our guests remain seated until the procession concludes. Go, Huskies. Congrats, class. [ Cheering & Applause ] [ Music ]