Featured Alumni

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Jaunessa Walsh
MBA 2007

Jaunessa

Spokane-area women looking for a workout challenge may find their answer with farmgirlfit. Gonzaga MBA alum, Jaunessa Walsh, along with four Gonzaga undergraduate alumni, are the proud owners of this Crossfit club that gained 200 members in its first year!

Jaunessa, who also earned her undergraduate degree from Gonzaga, saw first-hand the benefits of Crossfit training. She and her business partners also noticed that women-only Crossfit classes were always overflowing at local clubs and saw an opportunity. While they recognized the risk of building a business just for women, the owners of farmgirlfit were confident they could build something special. As Jaunessa explained, when you "get a group of women together that have the same goal, it's amazing what they can do."

CrossFit training is an intense, full body, back-to-basics work out (farmgirlfit has a stack of tractor tires next to their building that are used during workouts). But, although it might sound imposing, its focus on burning fat and building lean muscle is suitable for women of all ages and fitness levels. The owners originally assumed the Crossfit workout would appeal most to women in their late twenties and early thirties but have found that their primary clients are a bit older (35-45 with their oldest clients in their sixties) and often moms with busy schedules attracted by the impressive results gained from 60-minute workouts. "It's not just about the pull-ups," according to Jaunessa. "It's about the relationships you form. Every woman can do this."

In addition to building a great new Spokane business and offering a fitness program many local women are drawn to, the owners of farmgirlfit are committed to giving back to the community that supports them. In October 2012, they organized the "Pennies for Pull-ups" campaign to raise money for St. Margaret's Shelter, which is a supportive short-term housing solution for homeless women and their children. St. Margaret's was chosen because of the shelter's emphasis on healthy eating choices for its residents that includes a community garden and training in healthy cooking.

farmgirlfit members completed 43,129 pull-ups during the month of October! Between the penny farmgirlfit contributed for each pull-up and the generous donations members gathered and contributed, Jaunessa and her partners were thrilled to present St. Margaret's Shelter a check for $3,431.56. Jaunessa credits the owners' Jesuit education as one of the factors for their decision to give back to the Spokane community in these tough economic times and in their first year of business.

When pressed about what part of her education specifically encouraged this desire to give back and the confidence to help build a new business, she thought for a moment and finally determined there was no one instance that set her on this path. "Gonzaga is who I am," she explained.

For more information: 509.747.2330 · farmgirlfit.com

Eric Agnew
MBA 2011

Agnew

Eric Agnew is a 2011 Gonzaga MBA graduate and now serves on the GSB Executive Alumni Board. He had the distinction of being named the 2010-11 MBA Student of the Year. Eric works at Itron, where he is Service Business Manager and responsible for about $30M in annual maintenance revenue.

We recently sat down with Eric, to learn more about some of his endeavors, interests, and accomplishments.

GSB: You were a part of the first Gonzaga team to participate in the Hult Global Case Challenge. Tell us about that.
Eric: The Hult Challenge was a great experience! They bring business schools from all over the world together, and have the teams compete by using their business skills to attack a social issue; the year our team competed the issue was the Global Water Crisis, in support of water.org’s mission to provide clean drinking water to 100 million people in five years. The winning team’s idea got $1 million for implementation. It was pretty special for us to have an opportunity to represent the University.

GSB: How have you been utilizing your MBA education since you graduated?
Eric: At the moment I’m on the core team for two global projects at Itron, where I have to be able to work effectively with a cross-section of IT, Finance, Marketing, Operations, and other teams.  I think that is essentially what the GU MBA tries to provide, the ability to lead and be competent in different business competencies.

GSB: We know that you participated in Startup Weekend Spokane recently. What is that event?
Eric: Startup Weekends are a 54 hour blitz where marketers, designers and developers get together to pitch ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups. We basically worked frantically on our ideas non-stop from Friday night to Sunday night, and I loved every second of it! I took Dr. Finkle’s Creating New Ventures class my final year, and was bit by the startup bug. I took the class wanting to learn more about business planning for my corporate career, but I also learned just how much of an entrepreneurial side to me there is. Our product is called Gigmo, and it was amazing to see it take shape!

GSB: Tell us about Gigmo!
Eric: The idea is to create an online service that will match up bands looking for gigs to play with event planners needing live music. The site is pre-registering users now at www.gigmo.co. I love making something out of nothing; so, for me, it's the most fun hobby that I've ever had.

Eric is teaching a marketing class for our MBA student during Fall 2013 that explores the impact of social media on businesses.

 

 

MAcc 2011

kiely

In 2011, over 90,000 candidates sat for the Uniform CPA Examination. While passing the exam is an accomplishment in itself, earning a score within the top 100 or even top 50 is unthinkable for many test takers. Gonzaga University Masters of Accountancy graduate Kiely Strohmaier went one step beyond that by earning scores that placed her in the top 37 among 90,000 test takers.

Kiely is a recipient of the 2011 E.W. Sells award, which recognizes outstanding performance on the Uniform CPA Examination. The award was presented to 37 candidates who earned top scores on all four sections. Awarded by the American Institute of CPAS (AICPA), the 2011 awards were presented to candidates who obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination, completed testing during the previous calendar year, and passed all four sections of the Examination on their first attempt.

Kiely notes that earning this award is a significant honor. “This came as a huge surprise. When you are taking the exams, you really have no idea where you stand or how you are doing,” said Kiely.

Kiely came to Gonzaga’s Masters of Accountancy program after finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Washington. She noted the rolling admissions and flexible start time as key benefits of the MAcc program. “I graduated early from the University of Washington and I was able to start my MAcc right away at Gonzaga. It worked out perfectly to complete the program within a year and take the CPA in the summer,” Kiely explained.

While at Gonzaga, Kiely enjoyed the personal, close-knit community on campus. Specifically interested in tax issues and case studies around agriculture, Kiely appreciated the faculty’s willingness to provide her with extra information and resources.

“I’m really thankful for everybody at Gonzaga who supported us and helped us learn what we need to know to start careers and pass the CPA. Gonzaga did a great job. The MAcc program is strong and getting stronger all the time!”

Kiely Strohmaier is currently a staff accountant for CliftonLarsonAllen LLP in Moses Lake, WA.

 

MBA 2012

witham

Amidst wrapping up his MBA coursework this summer, alumnus Ryan Witham found time to train for and compete in Ironman held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Here the story in his own words:

Coeur d’Alene Ironman: June 24, 2012

Distances: 2.4m swim, 112m bike, 26.2m run

Charity: When I started training for Ironman, I knew I wanted to somehow give back to the community. In March I decided to partner with Center Pointe, a non-profit organization in Spokane that provides social, recreational and education activities in a safe, barrier free environment for adults with diverse abilities. In preparation for my race, I created a scholarship fund with the purpose of covering the costs for an individual to attend Center Pointe who may not have the opportunity otherwise due to financial hardships.  I chose to partner with Center Pointe because I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); a developmental disability I have learned to accept and embrace.  As an adult with ADHD, I have learned ways to overcome the disorder such as maintaining an active lifestyle and eating healthy. Training for an event like the Coeur d’Alene Ironman provided me with the structure and routine that allowed me to stay focused and on-track.

Training: In January I joined Team Blaze Spokane, a local triathlon club to help give me guidance and support while on my Ironman journey. During my training Team Blaze hosted a number of training and social events where team members could do swim workouts, long rides, brick workouts or mini-triathlons. Social events were also held as way for team members to share information and tips about how to prepare for certain races. In preparation for the race I followed a 20 week training schedule while also attending Gonzaga University as a full-time MBA student.

Race Recap: This past April, Scott Roy, coach of Team Blaze passed away suddenly. Due to the personal impact he had on me, I decided to dedicate my Ironman race to Coach Scott.  He was truly one of the most inspirational individuals I have ever met.  Not only was Coach Scott an outstanding athlete, but he was a positive mentor and motivator for everyone who crossed his path. Coach Scott’s favorite saying was “Enjoy the Journey.” This motto is what gave me the strength and motivation on race day from the second the gun went off to the moment I crossed the finish line 11 hours and 44 minutes later.

Overall I was extremely pleased with how the race went. The second lap of the 2.4 mile swim was a bit rough, but once I got out of the choppy, cold water and onto my bike, I felt much more comfortable. After the 112 mile bike, it was time for the 26.2 mile run. During the run I was in a zone where I felt like nothing could stop me.  As I was approaching the finish line, I looked up and thanked Coach Scott for his inspiration. Ironman CD’A was truly an incredible journey that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

 

 

BBA 1953, MBA 1963
Member of the first MBA Graduating Class

Fred Owen

Fred Owen exemplifies what it means to be a Gonzaga University Alumnus. His passion for ethics and his understanding that people are fulfilled not by money but through achievement, resonates through his professional life to this day.

Fred’s Gonzaga journey began as an undergraduate in the School of Business in 1949 where he was a member of Gonzaga’s highly respected Men’s Glee Club and was selected to the National Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. After earning a BBA in Economics and Business, Fred served in the Navy during the Korean Conflict and later worked as a manager of human resources and line operations in government and private industry.

After several years, Fred returned to Gonzaga University to study Law. Three semesters into his law degree, Fred decided to enroll in the new Graduate School of Business where he earned his MBA as a member of the first graduating class. Although ethics was not explicitly taught in the early years of the program, as it is today, Fred recalls that it was an underlying theme in all of his classes. He argues that much, if not all, of his professional work is founded on the principles of ethics and rationality taught by Gonzaga professors.

Effective management, which recognizes that personal achievement is more important than compensation, is Fred’s primary professional passion. Throughout his career, he has steadfastly encouraged public and private sector employers to understand the importance of meaningful work. This is particularly evident in his extensive work with the issue of pay equity. His first project was an objective approach to achieving equity in compensation between women and men who performed work of similar value. While on the surface this sounds like a straightforward compensation issue, the problem with equity encountered by Fred was a systematic under-valuing of work done, in this case, by women.

The project became a landmark study that was considered for its fairness by the United States’ Supreme Court and has become the principal reference point for organizations in government and private industry when employers determine objective compensation policies without reference to gender. Subsequently, Fred performed similar work for the federal Government of Canada, helping to establish equitable compensation for approximately 200,000 employees. He performed compensation design and development for several other institutions of government, higher education, and private industry across North America.

Fred continues to provide services in the field of human resource management to government, higher education, and private industry employers. His professional life is clearly indicative of the deep commitment to the principles developed during his years at Gonzaga University.

Gonzaga left an indelible mark on Fred Owen, who, in turn, has left his mark on the world. It is with great pride that we acknowledge Fred Owen, prestigious member of the first class of Gonzaga University’s Graduate School of Business!

Ahmed Khalfan, MBA '05

Ahmed

Khalifa Deputy Manager
Kuwait Finance House

My life changed drastically after completing my MBA at Gonzaga, I got engaged to the love of my life two months after returning back home. I began building our home while struggling to meet the difficult objectives set for my new job then as Head of Marketing at the local telecommunications service provider. After a year, I was offered a job at the second largest Islamic bank in the world. The job has been very demanding and still is. 

A few months after moving into our new home, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Zain, six months.  Before having Zain we did a lot of traveling. We visited Rome, Spain, Portugal, the UK, and Kuala Lumpur. My best trip was visiting the Colosseum in Rome. That's when I realized I have a soft spot for history. I really believe that a person can learn more from history than anything else.

My career during the past five years witnessed a major transformation from officer, to supervisor, to assistant manager and now deputy manager. The responsibilities of course kept increasing and become more complex in nature. But I still believe that I have a ways to go before sticking to a specific position for a longer period. My biggest fear is to be forgotten. This is my motivator, my tool to strive for a better role in my career and in my personal life. 

I owe most of my development in these few short years first and foremost to God and then to my wonderful family and finally to the experience I received during my MBA at Gonzaga. I will always feel in debt and would love to continue being in touch with the Alumni and especially '05 graduates. God bless you all and I will always have Gonzaga in my heart.

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GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
Adriane Leithauser

Alumni and Outreach Specialist
502 E. Boone Ave
Spokane, WA 99258
(509) 313-3419
leithauser@gonzaga.edu

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