This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the University of Washington Foster School of Business. To celebrate the milestone, more than 600 alumni, students, faculty, and friends headed to the Seattle Westin on November 2nd for the Centennial Leadership Celebration—the school’s 26th annual gala.
Dean Jim Jiambalvo led the gala, starting off with a historical overview of the Foster School. He began with the school’s 1917 launch, with just seven professors and a dozen students. “A pretty good student-faculty ratio,” he quipped. He went on to detail the school’s exponential growth, from degree program expansion to new facility construction to the launch of student centers for entrepreneurship, consulting, and global business.
The school then honored three Northwest firms—Boeing, PACCAR, and Nordstrom—as “Companies of the Century.”
Gillian Van Der Schaaf, a second-year MBA student and president of Foster’s MBA Association, introduced Nordstrom, where she interned over the summer. “I’ve never encountered a more thoughtful and respectful organization,” she said. “It was truly exciting to learn that a company that I’ve admired for years from the outside is just as genuine on the inside.”
Foster recognized Nordstrom as a leading fashion retailer with 365 stores across the country and more than $14B in annual sales. Nordstrom Co-President Pete Nordstrom accepted the award on behalf of the company. “I often hear about how great it is that my family is still leading the business, and I guess that’s true in a certain respect,” he said. “But the success of our company is really not about individuals named Nordstrom. There’s not that many of us, and not many customers even know who we are. Our business is really defined by the 70,000 people who show up to work every day and treat the business as if it’s their own and their name hangs over the door. Any reputation we’ve gained over the years for great service or having a great business results is really a tribute to them.”
Jessica Enzi, a third-year Evening MBA student who has worked at PACCAR since 2007, introduced the second “Company of the Century.” “PACCAR cares deeply about its employees,” she said. “The tangible encouragement to continue education at the UW and elsewhere comes in the form of robust tuition support, which made the possibility of pursuing an MBA a reality for me. The same program helped my mother pursue her own academic goals.”
Founded in 1906, PACCAR was recognized as a global technology leader in the design, manufacturing, and support of premium trucks. They have 23,000 employees and annual revenues of more than $17B in more than 100 countries. To accept the award, PACCAR CEO Rom Armstrong came to the stage.
“The long-term relationships we have with our suppliers, our customers, our dealers, our employees, have been a key part of PACCAR’s success for 112 years,” he said. “Equally important is the relationships with the communities in which we work and live. PACCAR, the PACCAR Foundation, the Pigott family, and thousands of employees have called Seattle home for more than a century. And we’ve had a special relationship with the University of Washington.”
The final “Companies of the Century” award went to Boeing, introduced by Chad Shapard, a ’17 BA and strategy analyst at the company. He spoke about his family’s experience with the company, including his grandfather’s 38-year career there. “For me, Boeing means opportunity,” he said.
To accept the award, Beverley Wyse (MBA ’05), president of shared services at Boeing, came to the stage. Boeing was recognized for being the world’s largest aerospace company with 150,000 employees and $95B in annual revenue. “The world is changing. Our companies are changing,” Wyse said. “And perhaps the most critical characteristic of the companies that are being honored here tonight—and the many others that have survived and thrived—is that ability to evolve. Can we see what’s coming next? Are we willing to embrace the change that’s before us? It’s a big part of what’s made Boeing, Nordstrom, PACCAR, and the University of Washington successful. And I think we all need to embrace it if we want to last the next 100 years.”
The event ended with a discussion by Microsoft’s James Whittaker, a technical evangelist who addressed the future of data. “Data is the new oil.,” he said. “But, like oil, it’s not really valuable until you can extract energy from it. Data isn’t valuable until you can extract knowledge from it.” He went on to talk about Microsoft’s foray into a world beyond the cloud and what those opportunities could look like.
To learn more about the centennial anniversary event, check out the news release on the school’s website.