Staff feature: Meet Julian Steele

Onboarding Coordinator Julian Steele

Please give us a brief overview of your academic and professional backgrounds.

I am a higher education student affairs professional by training and trade. I graduated in May 2019 from the Master’s in Student Affairs Administration program at Lewis & Clark College here in Portland.

Like many of my colleagues, I caught the “student affairs bug” during my undergrad education. At Sacramento State University, I served as a peer mentor for first-generation college students, and as a tutor in the writing center. This experience impressed upon me how critical co-curricular supports are for the most vulnerable college students. The professor track isn’t for everyone, but there are other ways to be an educator to college students.

Still, it wasn’t a direct path for me from peer mentor to onboarding and student success specialist. I took a detour into the digital marketing world for a few years after undergrad. Turns out that wasn’t the path for me, but I picked up many transferable skills. If you think about it, so much of what we do in student services is marketing: Influencing students to spend their time and attention in ways we believe will support their long-term success.  (Is everything public in life a form of marketing?)

What are your areas of passion and expertise in The School of Business?

My role is charged with onboarding and student success, and most of my work with students takes place in the time between admission and orientation. I love having conversations around students’ goals and passions, and helping them strategize how they can get the most out of their program experience. As a recent graduate student myself, I can connect with folks on a personal level around this new phase of their life. Those personal connections are the most rewarding part of my job.

On the more technical side, I love working with data and institutional systems. Designing surveys and assessments, creating reports on data and trends, and strategizing data-informed responses to structural challenges are all parts of my work that I enjoy immensely. The way my role splits interpersonal relationships and systems work is ideal for me.

What do you enjoy most about working in The School of Business?

The people and the mission. During my grad program, I hadn’t considered graduate business education services as the space I would end up. As a student, my experiences and interests were more toward access-focused, foundational education like community college and public four-year undergraduate institutions. If you had asked that Julian about working in graduate business education, he probably would have thought you were asking him to participate in the reproduction of privilege and inequality.

I quickly learned that at Portland State, graduate business education is rooted in values of access, equity and socially-conscious change influence. It’s not “business as usual” here. Others across the higher ed landscape have been positioning themselves toward similar values for some time. In my experience, though, it’s still rare that those values truly live in the people, practices and leadership responsible for carrying them through. These values live here.

What does “redefining business” mean to you?

Who gets to participate and to what end. Changing what a business leader “looks like” in the mind’s eye of our collective culture. Building others up and making more space at the table rather than each jealously guarding “their” corner of the economy.

What can students do to best prepare for the first day of their programs?

1. Ask yourself what you are most nervous about. Are you newer to the business world? A little shaky on your math? Only “kinda” know how to use Excel? There are many free and low-cost ways to skill up available online — make a commitment to yourself to get some practice and build your confidence before you get busy with your program.

2. Plan out your weekly schedule as much as possible. Everyone balances work and school a bit differently at the graduate level, so your plan will be unique — just make sure it works for you.

Work, school and personal responsibilities will balloon to fill whatever time you have, so make sure you protect some. You need time to decompress, and also for unstructured reflection, visioning, dreaming. Whatever you want to call it,  make sure you have time to check in with yourself: Are you developing skills in a way that feels right? If not, reach out —  to a faculty member, staff person, professional mentor or respected peer.

Can students still reach out to you even after they’ve onboarded? How?

Absolutely! After orientation students are fully onboarded but I love to hear how students are progressing and talk through anything on their mind. We are on remote operations currently, but usually I am always happy to chat if a student stops by our office. Anyone can also drop a note in my inbox at steele7@pdx.edu.

When you are not working, what do you do in your free time?

You’ll find me out on a bike trail, near the front of a concert, sipping a microbrew, glued to the TV, nose in a book, hands deep in garden soil, sprawled on the beach, browsing a thrift shop or mixing an experimental cocktail.

I quickly learned that at Portland State, graduate business education is rooted in values of access, equity and socially-conscious change influence. It’s not “business as usual” here. Others across the higher ed landscape have been positioning themselves toward similar values for some time. In my experience, though, it’s still rare that those values truly live in the people, practices and leadership responsible for carrying them through. These values live here.

Letting knowledge serve the city during a pandemic: Brian McCarthy on teaching and learning remotely

Graduate Business Programs marketing assistant and MBA candidate Nathaniel Goldberg recently held a Zoom interview—technological glitches and all—with School of Business Marketing and Leadership instructor Brian McCarthy to discuss the opportunities and challenges of learning and teaching remotely.

As a leader in industry and on campus, McCarthy offered some messages that are important for everyone teaching at this time:

  1. McCarthy believes PSU is uniquely situated to adopt remote teaching and learning. “We’ve always taken seriously our obligation to let knowledge serve the city and to be very inclusive,” McCarthy said.
  2. McCarthy also offered advice on how faculty can build positive relationships with students in a remote setting. “It begins with empathy,” he explained. “Just caring about each other, trying to remember what people might be going through, and putting ourselves in their place.”
  3. Despite these challenging times, McCarthy argued that PSU must still “honor the degree.” He insisted that “We maintain the academic rigor, and we make sure that the work is hard and relevant. Most of all, he said, “We keep in mind that students want to learn.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed businesses and institutions everywhere to develop new ways to communicate. Our interview with Brian McCarthy marked our first vlog post. If you enjoyed it and would like to see more of these types of posts in the future, please share on social media!

McCarthy believes PSU is uniquely situated to adopt remote teaching and learning. “We’ve always taken seriously our obligation to let knowledge serve the city and to be very inclusive,” McCarthy said.

A shared experience: Ethics and professionalism in the PSU School of Business

In fall 2019, the Graduate Business Programs student services team released new documents outlining shared community expectations around professionalism, leadership and ethics. While an important step toward defining these values and helping students decode and examine the concept of “professionalism,” work is still needed. Current GBP candidates Alex Box, Ariella Frishberg, and Jose Bracho Zabala are part of a student-led team charged with gathering their peers’ feedback in order to revise these documents and discover how program leadership can better incorporate these values into the student experience.

How is a code of ethics and professionalism important to your program experience?

Alex Bok: The code of ethics and professionalism is meant to assist students with understanding their behavior and how that looks in a professional environment, whether that be at school or in the workplace. Having a baseline of what professionalism is, and what the expected rules of behavior are will allow for improved communication, working relationships and practical learning opportunities for students.

Ariella Frishberg: A code of ethics is a way of solidifying expectations for culture within the program. When the institution doesn’t communicate the values it expects, cohorts end up creating their own cultural norms. Unfortunately, that process is often done by default instead of intentionally— those with the loudest voices end up setting the expectations and shaping the experiences of everyone in the cohort. It is essential for The School of Business to make clear what is expected of members of our community, and to do it in a thoughtful way so that underrepresented voices aren’t left out of the conversation. This is especially important when it comes to defining the concept of “professionalism,” which is a coded term often used to gatekeep the business world.

Jose Bracho Zabala: Ethics should be the context in which business professionals perform their duties. Unethical practices have had severe ramifications for both companies and society. As the workplace becomes more diverse and inclusive, it is essential that employees feel that their values and needs are represented. A code of ethics and professionalism that guides students in their labor while also being inclusive is imperative.

How will your peers’ voices be involved in this revision process?

AB: We are using a variety of platforms to engage students. One platform, the weekly PSU Business Newsletter, has been useful at engaging peers. Our group has been putting a singular question in the newsletter and will also attach a survey later in May. In addition to posting the survey in the newsletter, we will post it in cohort and student Facebook groups. We are also conducting “town hall” style forums through Zoom for students to talk about the code of ethics and what they would like to see in it. For all of these platforms, students have the option to schedule a 1:1 follow-up.

What motivated you to take a leadership role in revising the code?

AB: I took a leadership role in the code revision because I noticed it wasn’t being taken seriously by some students. My hope is that by adding student voices to the code, students will want to promote and model the positive behaviors that they addressed as being important to their time at PSU.

AF: I come from the nonprofit world with years of experience in leading and facilitating equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives. It is really important to me that the new code of ethics is created with an equity lens, so I jumped at the chance to contribute to the project.

JBZ: I hope to learn from different students’ perspectives to get a broader sense of the significance of professionalism and ethics.

What is an equity lens and how are you applying one to this project?

AF: An equity lens is a framework used to make sure that processes and eventual products meet the needs of everyone impacted by them, especially underrepresented and marginalized communities. We have modeled ours off of the tool created by Multnomah County, which refers to an equity lens as a “quality improvement tool.”

What do you hope your peers will gain from adding feedback to the code?

AB: I hope they have a feeling of ownership over the code and want to promote the behaviors they identified as positive to their learning environment.

AF: Adding a student voice and perspective to the code will make it more effective at communicating our shared values, and encourage participation. The code is really supposed to be about what it means to show up and be representative of PSU’s Graduate Business Programs. I hope that by contributing to the revision of that code and engaging with what it means to be part of this community, students can take pride in showing up and claiming their identity as a graduate of the PSU School of Business.

JBZ: I hope that my peers will have a code of ethics and professionalism that represents them so that they feel more included in the direction PSU’s Graduate Business Programs.

Current students may visit this web page to learn more about opportunities to add their voice to this revision process.

In fall 2019, the Graduate Business Programs student services team released new documents outlining shared community expectations around professionalism, leadership and ethics. Current GBP candidates Alex Box, Ariella Frishberg, and Jose Bracho Zabala are part of a student-led team charged with gathering their peers’ feedback in order to revise these documents and discover how program leadership can better incorporate these values into the student experience.

Student feature: Meet Shweta Kide

Program: MSF

Graduation Year: 2020

Program Schedule: Full-Time

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose PSU’s Graduate School of Business.

I am a Chartered Accountant (CA) from ICAI in India. To demonstrate my expertise in financial subjects at an international level, I have acquired certifications like Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certification in Risk Management & Assurance (CRMA) from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), U.S.  Additionally, I am currently preparing for the CPA certification from AICPA, U.S.

Over the last eight years of my professional journey, I have gained extensive experience in several fields like internal auditing, consulting, accounts and taxation. As an internal auditor, I have spearheaded many audit assignments and coached team members in business functions like finance, marketing, supply chain, human resources and law. I relished my time working in different sectors like telecommunications, media and entertainment, not for profits, technology and manufacturing. I thoroughly enjoyed working in dynamic work environments where there was always a challenge to research on my own and learn something new. I also got an incredible opportunity to travel across Europe and Asia Pacific and work with a set of amazing people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

As a next step in my career, I have decided to pursue a Master of Science in Finance degree with the intention to gain technical expertise in the field of finance and learn about emerging fields like big data analysis and blockchain. My interest in financial controls and risk management aligns perfectly with the MSF curriculum.

What do you intend to do with your degree?

An MSF degree is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to gain hands-on experience in emerging fields in finance. The experience that I have gained during my tenure as an auditor coupled with the added knowledge gained during the MSF program will help me pursue a career in fintech risk management.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable and why?

I like the way the MSF program is designed to build my skillset through practical application of knowledge rather than just learning theory. Now, I am able to do critical thinking and thorough research on the subject matter. Also, my creative presentation skills and business communication have improved to a great extent thanks to the in-class presentations. Being a student ambassador for MSF also helped me sharpen my networking skills.

How do you spend your free time?

I strongly believe in contributing to society. One of the ways to act on it is by volunteering for the causes that are close to my heart. At PSU, I volunteer for the food market and have become part of the committee working on improving student food security. This provides an opportunity to meet and work with people who believe in the same cause.

I am also an avid reader. I spend a few hours every week reading about a variety of topics like cultural diversity, autobiographies, leadership, human psychology/behaviorism and science fiction.

Additionally, I enjoy cooking and constantly explore new recipes from different cuisines. Whenever weather permits, my friends and I sneak out for a trek to explore the beauty of nature.

What advice would you give to prospective graduate business students?

Reach out to people whose career trajectory interests you and seek their advice. Do not hesitate to try a few different things during the early stages of your career to evaluate your likes and interests. Also, focus on continuous learning—be it via informal modes or formal higher education—to explore opportunities in new and emerging fields.

What inspires you?

People who enjoy contributing selflessly to the betterment of the community and society inspire me. I am immensely inspired by my sister, Rasika, and brother-in-law, Shailesh, who strongly believe in the cause of education and work with a few different tribal communities in India. Every Sunday they organize various events and activities for the children in these communities promoting the importance of education.

The urge to constantly learn new things (beyond course material) also keeps me motivated. Murtuza Kachwala, my mentor/guide during my CA articleship in India exemplified it. Even though he is a veteran and an expert in areas of auditing, he is always keen on learning from his students.

An MSF degree is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to gain hands-on experience in emerging fields in finance. The experience that I have gained during my tenure as an auditor coupled with the added knowledge gained during the MSF program will help me pursue a career in fintech risk management.

Student feature: Meet Daniel Erickson

Program: MSGSCM

Graduation Year: 2020

Program Schedule: Full-Time

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose PSU’s Graduate School of Business.

I graduated from PSU’s School of Business in 2013, with undergraduate majors in Human Resources, Management and Leadership, and Supply and Logistics Management. After completing an internship at IBM focused on learning and development, I knew that my supply chain degree would be the best possible path forward. I was hired by Oracle after graduation as a project manager within their supplier management division, where I focused on risk management and supplier compliance and claims.

I had always set a deadline to come back to The School of Business to further my educational goals. Having worked in supply chain for the past five years, the logical step was to explore PSU’s Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management, as this curriculum provided me the best mix of business strategy and targeted industry experience. I knew I could trust The School of Business to have the same outstanding  full-time and adjunct faculty as I experienced in my undergrad to provide me further insights into my career path.

What do you intend to do with your degree?

Upon graduation I hope to pivot my career from high tech to helping smaller firms create sustainable growth through improved supply chain processes and frameworks. I hope to find a career within the sustainable energy field, as I think this is the next emerging market for the U.S. In 2020 we have seen the importance of diversified supply chains that can help a firm mitigate the risks present across the globe— pandemics, natural disasters and tariffs —and come out better in the long run.

A secondary reason I pursued a master’s degree is that I hope to begin teaching as an adjunct faculty at a local university or ideally, PSU’s School of Business.  During undergrad I was a peer mentor for Freshman Inquiry, and there I learned of my passion for helping students be successful during their time here at PSU and hopefully help them translate this success into engaged citizenship.

Lastly, in another five years, I plan to enroll in a doctoral program so I can move from adjunct teaching to full-time faculty where I can share my career experiences with the next generation of professionals, just as my School of Business professors did for me during my time as a student.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable and why?

I cannot point to one specific item that was the most valuable — I prefer to think of my time here holistically. Both in undergrad and in my master’s program, I have gained many skills, learned from amazing faculty, shared experiences I would not have had an opportunity otherwise and met some lifelong friends. I can say without a doubt that PSU changed the trajectory of my life and for that I am eternally grateful.

How do you spend your free time?

I am not sure I understand the concept of “free time.” As a master’s student who also works full-time, my free time is few and far between! All kidding aside, I enjoy working out in my garage gym and playing summer league softball. My wife and I have also taken to attending community landscaping and gardening classes as we are trying to produce a lot of our own veggies during the spring and summer!

What advice would you give to prospective graduate business students?

School is all about what you make of it, and the more energy you put into your learning while attending PSU, the more you will get out of it. Dive deeply into the content and apply the frameworks to your daily life. Bring your experience and story to the classroom. These experiences can help you understand the information better, and also add a perspective that your classmates will value in their learning. Part of the fun of college is learning from others who are not like you, and PSU has that diversity across its campus and programs. If prospective students allow themselves to be exposed to the wealth of experience and culture around them at PSU, they will leave here better equipped to work in a global community.

What inspires you?

I prefer to think about it as what drives me. Daniel Pink has a book called Drive and I would recommend everyone read it. He talks about autonomy, purpose, and mastery as the key factors to what motivates a person to be successful. Right now I am still figuring out how I want to apply my purpose and continue to master my skills. Hopefully when I look back at my career, I can say I made a difference — either in people’s lives or in my community. I believe that I will, and I think PSU will be the reason for that.

Bring your experience and story to the classroom. These experiences can help you understand the information better, and also add a perspective that your classmates will value in their learning. Part of the fun of college is learning from others who are not like you, and PSU has that diversity across its campus and programs.

Staff feature: Meet Allen Thayer

Allen Thayer
Allen Thayer is the Professional Development Specialist in PSU’s Graduate Business Programs.

Please give us a brief overview of your academic and professional background.

The path that brought me to PSU as the Professional Development Specialist in the Graduate Business Programs Office was definitely not a straight one. I believe that I stumbled into career advising because I’ve experienced a number of different careers working for for-profit, nonprofit, government and hybrid employers. My bachelor’s and master’s degrees were in international affairs with a focus on economic development in Southeast Asia and Brazil. Before starting my career in academia working at the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Business School, I was active in the flourishing fair trade movement. Upon deciding to move back home to Portland and after attending one of the first Elevating Impact conferences, I identified PSU as the place I wanted to plug into for my next professional adventure!

What are your areas of passion and expertise in The School of Business?

I love working with candidates in an advising setting, navigating their career paths, helping them understand and maximize their strengths, exploring new options or focusing their job search strategies. One of the initiatives I’m most excited about is the curriculum and workshop series I’m developing — Career Design — that uses design thinking methodologies to unpack and better understand our career goals in both the short and long terms. The industries or sectors that I have the most expertise in include the social-purpose business (B-Corp, etc.), nonprofit and social enterprise space, which I have been involved in for decades.

What do you enjoy most about working in The School of Business?

I most enjoy the people, namely the students and staff who work tirelessly to advance their own and others’ careers in so many ways. Having worked in a number of different environments in different cities and coasts, I find the PSU community to be the most authentic, passionate and impressive I’ve had the good fortune to experience.

What does “redefining business” mean to you?

To me, “redefining business” means breaking down the barriers between sectors, as well as recognizing the collaborations that are possible and the commonalities that are evident across corporate, nonprofit and public sector initiatives. In the 2020s, business is just how things get done, regardless of the sector, and we’re training the next generation of leaders to navigate this sometimes opaque environment while considering social, cultural and environmental challenges and opportunities.

What is the most important soft skill that employers are seeking in 2020?

As difficult as it can be to demonstrate and communicate this, what employers are most looking for is a well-rounded background and the ability to problem-solve, work creatively and collaborate with others. As industries evolve and adapt to increasing implementation of technology in the workforce, employers will still need people who can make sense of greater amounts of data, manage staff as well as algorithms, and explain and make recommendations based on constantly evolving factors.

What is the most common, but easily correctable mistake that you see students make in their resumes, cover letters or job applications?

It’s essential that job seekers tailor their experiences to the roles they’re pursuing, bullet-point by bullet-point. Do some work on transferable skills, exclude accomplishments that are irrelevant to the job you’re applying for and add more context to the ones that are, like $, #, % and frequencies and durations. Make each entry on your resume relevant to the job you’re applying for and order that information so that the most impressive items are closer to the top. For example, if you’re a career-changer, you should probably highlight your master’s degree work at the top of your resume to demonstrate to potential employers how you are positioning yourself for the career change you want to make through adding new skills and competencies.

When you are not working, what do you do in your free time?

When I’m not at the Karl Miller Center, I’m usually wrangling my two sons (ages 6 and 9) and listening to music, most likely on vinyl from my extensive collection that skews heavily Brazilian. I host a weekly radio show on KMHD Jazz Radio (89.1 FM in Portland) every Saturday from 9 to11 a.m. In addition to DJing music, I also write about it in book form, on websites and other places people read things.  Check it out at allenthayer.com.


If you’re a current student who would like career support, you can schedule a virtual appointment with Allen by clicking here.

In the 2020s, business is just how things get done, regardless of the sector, and we’re training the next generation of leaders to navigate this sometimes opaque environment while considering social, cultural and environmental challenges and opportunities.

Portland State Graduate Finance Students Excel at Regional Case Competitions

PSU MSF Candidates at the ACG Cup

The School of Business at Portland State University recently celebrated a second-place finish in the Portland CFA Institute Research Challenge and advancement to the semifinals at the ACG Cup Northwest.

Supported by PSU finance professors Michael DimondPiman Limpaphayom and Tony TursichMaster of Science in Finance (MSF) candidates Magali Davila Centeno, Tze Ken Teoh and Jose Bracho Zabala earned second-place honors in the Portland CFA Institute Research Challenge, an annual competition that supports students from around the world in financial analysis. Students work in teams to research and analyze a publicly traded company, and then present a research report with a recommendation to buy, sell or hold.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge brings together over 6,000 students from 1,000 different universities worldwide, in addition to over 150 CFA member societies and 4,000 member volunteers.

PSU’s team began to prepare early in the fall term, researching their assigned company, Schnitzer Steel Industries. According to Centeno, “The competition began by attending a luncheon to meet the other competing schools. We also attended an investor presentation at Schnitzer Steel’s headquarters downtown. During this presentation, we had the chance to ask questions about the company and industry to aid in our research and analysis.”

From there, the team met on a regular basis, utilizing the Bloomberg Finance Lab to support their research. Each team member took on a different part of the analysis and research. “As the competition approached, we met more often and had regular meetings with Professor Dimond every Friday morning to discuss our progress and any questions we had,” added Centeno. “We also met with Tony Tursich, who provided feedback on our written report and presentation.”

As a mentor to the team, Tursich provided feedback and suggestions and was there on the day of the competition to provide support. “My job was to provide a ‘real world’ industry perspective as the students’ work progressed and evolved into the final written report and presentation for the competition,” said Tursich.

In their report and presentation, the team recommended a sell position. Centeno said this was “based on various revenue risks we observed, including the effect of Coronavirus, emerging markets, imbalance of global supply and demand for recycled steel scrap and declining global steel scrap prices. Our target price at the time of the competition was $16.08.”

On March 6, MSF candidates Anna Mar, Anh Huynh, Thanh Nguyen and Andrew Clarkson competed at the ACG Cup Northwest. PSU Academic Director Daniel Wong and CFA Jake Shafer helped coach the team throughout the competition.

The ACG Cup is a case study competition where students tackle a real-world finance issue in a high-pressure setting. According to ACG Cup organizers, “After the teams analyze the case and agree upon a course of action, the students make presentations to a panel of judges comprised of successful corporate executives in the field of finance.”

The PSU team asked to analyze LaLuche, a Mediterranean restaurant chain. In the case, the team learned the company was adding plant-based protein to their menu and was experiencing challenges with internal management and leadership. Cliff Capital was attempting to buy LaLuche, but LaLuche leadership was considering the purchase of a small restaurant chain named Blue Moon to expand the business, leveraging the existing LaLuche supply chain.

According to Thanh Nguyen, the team’s recommendation was “to purchase Blue Moon with 40% equity and 60% debt. We will negotiate with Cliff Capital for the 40% equity fund.”

This was the fourth year of the competition, which includes both undergraduate and graduate students from universities across Oregon and Washington. This year, first place went to Seattle University.

“We all have an interest in finance, some of us want to go into corporate finance and others want to pursue security analysis,” said Centeno. “Competing in case competitions helps us work on teamwork and supports the learning outcomes and career goals of graduate business students, providing opportunities to practice tangible finance skills and work in a collaborative team.” 

The School of Business at Portland State University recently celebrated a second-place finish in the Portland CFA Institute Research Challenge and advancement to the semifinals at the ACG Cup Northwest.

“You want me to do what?” 3 non-business books to read over the break

Now that you’ve just about finished the term, you’re probably hoping to read some books to unwi— Wait! Hear us out. Did you know there are books out there that have nothing to do with business? It’s true! Here are 3 books that aren’t in the business sections of bookstores, but still offer useful insights for businesspeople. So settle in, grab your favorite beverage, and keep reading.

“These Truths: A History of the United States,” Jill Lepore

Who doesn’t have time to breeze through an 800-page behemoth of American History? But if you’re someone who has claimed that the U.S. is in unprecedented territory, you should read Lepore’s well-researched survey. You’ll discover some eerie similarities between America’s past and present, and see how seemingly newer issues like universal healthcare — and the responses to it — aren’t that new after all. Keep that beverage handy.

“The Courage to be Disliked,” Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

What a time to be alive! Pandemics, economic uncertainty and climate change are just a few of the things that people around the world are currently dealing with. It’s normal to feel a little anxious. The issue for many people is ensuring that their anxiety doesn’t shift from healthy concern to all-consuming worry. “The Courage to be Disliked” shares some helpful coping strategies for business professionals, including handling disapproval, approaching problems that are out of your control and navigating difficult relationships.

“Born a Crime,” Trevor Noah

A bestseller since it hit the shelves in 2016, “Born a Crime” is particularly suitable for businesspeople who have international interests. If nothing else (and there’s much else, not to worry), Noah’s memoir sheds insight on the nuances of racism and ethnocentrism, challenges us to consider our own implicit biases and exposes the mistake of trying to take a one-size-fits-all approach to these issues. Bonus tip: Get the audiobook for Noah’s stellar narration.

Now that you’ve finished the term, you’re probably hoping to read some books to unwi— Wait! Hear us out. Did you know there are books out there that have nothing to do with business? It’s true! Here are 3 books that aren’t in the business sections of bookstores, but still offer useful insights for businesspeople. So settle in, grab your favorite beverage, and keep reading.

Student feature: Meet Anna Mar

Anna Mar

Program: MSF

Graduation Year: 2020

Program Schedule: Full-Time

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose The School of Business at Portland State.

My early career was spent working at a bank. I started as a teller and was quickly promoted into a management position. I left after four years to spend time with my newborn son. As the time went by and my children grew, I started toying with the idea of returning to work. I put together a list of things I enjoyed about my work at the bank to help me narrow down my job search. It became apparent that to get the job I wanted, I would have to go to college. In 2015, I started taking online and evening classes at a community college, then transferred to PSU in 2017 to finish up my bachelor’s degree in accounting, which I did  in 2019. The Masters of Science in Finance at PSU’s School of Business, was a natural progression and a way for me to build upon my accounting degree.

What do you intend to do with your graduate business degree?

Following graduation, I will join an audit team at a local CPA firm. I have already accepted an offer and all I have to do is finish school and pass the CPA exams. My graduate degree will help accelerate my career thanks to the finance acumen that I gained, as well as the analytical and teamwork skills that the MSF program instilled.

Please share your scholarship story. What were the barriers for you to get a graduate degree?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the support of numerous scholarship donors throughout my education. When I first decided to go back to school, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it. The uncertainty was a source of significant stress. Rather than letting it deter me from pursuing my goals, I used it as a motivator to work hard and push against my limits. My efforts have paid off, as my academic achievements were recognized through unbelievably generous scholarships. I never imagined I would go to graduate school. I don’t know if I would have been able to go as far as I have without help, and I look forward to the day when I can pay it forward by contributing to a scholarship fund to help others achieve their goals.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable and why?

Portland State University is an amazing place that connects people of many different backgrounds. Attending classes with such a diverse group of people has allowed me to grow in compassion and understanding, and to improve my ability to work in teams and communicate more effectively.

I have also learned not to be afraid of failure, as the fear itself can lead to disappointment. Understanding that risk is an inherent part of success allowed me to take chances and grow through my experiences.

How do you spend your free time?

Anna Mar and family

I don’t have a whole lot of free time, as I am balancing a full-time school workload, work and parenting. Whenever possible, I try to enjoy the abundant beauty of the Pacific Northwest with my family. In the summer months, we like to hike, kayak and camp. In the winter, I ski whenever I can. I also enjoy reading mystery novels, solving puzzles, taking pictures of the surrounding world, as well as gardening and baking with my boys.

What advice would you give to prospective graduate business students?

I would urge anyone not to be afraid to take chances. Be bold and step out of your comfort zone. The last five years of school have been some of the most turbulent in my life, yet I am grateful for the challenges along the way.

What inspires you?

It may be a cliché, but the main source of my inspiration is my children. Both my boys are neurodiverse. I’ve been watching them grow and conquer their challenges from their earliest days. I am amazed at how they take their days in strides, and I am forever astonished by their willingness to push past their limits. I have learned a lot from them, and if there is one lesson I hope to teach them, it is that nothing is impossible as long as you are willing to try.

I would urge anyone not to be afraid to take chances. Be bold and step out of your comfort zone. The last five years of school have been some of the most turbulent in my life, yet I am grateful for the challenges along the way.

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