From the Dean: A Global University in a Global World
Because we live in a complex, interdependent world, it’s critical that our students develop global acumen. They need to understand how currency fluctuation affects business supply chains, and how our environmental choices affect neighboring countries. It’s also vital that they engage people from other cultures with self-reflection and humility.
These days, many employers assess their people on how well they can adapt to an international environment. That’s why we have study abroad, as well as degree programs such as Global Development, International Affairs, International Business, and Development Economics.
We want to be a place where global diversity and hospitality are valued and practiced, and where we welcome international students. But we don’t want only students in those programs to be equipped. We believe it’s important that all of our students are prepared to engage God’s world with humility, justice, and love.
Christalyn Steers McCrum ’10, one of the alumni featured in this issue, put it perfectly when she said, “In a world that is so global, so interconnected, and where more data and information exist than ever before, it’s important to keep that student attitude. It’s impossible to learn it all, so collaboration, openness, and humility are critical to achieve sustainable success.”
I’m glad to be on this adventure of lifelong learning with all of you.
Faculty Research Explores Realities Beyond our Borders
Many SPU faculty are involved in international research, remotely or by traveling and working in other countries. Meet three of those professors and their work.
Bradley J. Murg, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Director of Global Development Studies
Over the last four years, I have focused my research and broader professional activity on the question of economic development in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). This area includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China’s Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Special Administrative Region. To most outside observers, it seems a relatively small part of the globe — although it contains nearly 330 million people, roughly equivalent to the population of the United States.
My particular area of interest is the role of Chinese aid and investment in the region and the dynamics thereof in comparison to the role of the traditional, major economic powers, i.e., the U.S., the European Union, and Japan. At present, I am completing work on a monograph that will be the first comprehensive study of Chinese aid to Cambodia. Concomitantly, I am the lead editor of a book that will be published in January of next year, Cambodia 2040: A Foresighting Analysis. This project brings together 30 Cambodian scholars to examine the diverse scenarios confronting nearly every sector of Cambodian society, from health care to migration to fiscal policy, and provides recommendations to government officials.
As a professor at a Christian university, “service to the community” is, to me, an essential part of my vocation — whether that community is in Seattle or Phnom Penh. Thus, I spend each summer mentoring young research fellows working at two NGOs in Cambodia and teaching graduate courses at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, while working to support the next generation of Cambodian scholars and policy analysts.
Joon Sohn, Assistant Professor of International Business
My research interests center on how firms respond to changes in the global and local sociopolitical environment. Recently, using the case of Mexico, I have investigated the role of government corruption on multinational enterprises’ location choice.
Studying global business is special and interesting because “taken-for-granted” policies in one country do not necessarily work in other cultural contexts. While corruption is regarded as a barrier to economic development in developed economies, my colleagues and I found that, in emerging markets, moderate levels of corruption could in fact attract multinational corporations’ business activities by lowering bureaucratic unresponsiveness. Our results imply that implementing business strategies at the local level requires a keen understanding of the local sociopolitical and cultural environment. This tension between “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” vs. “my way or the highway” motivates my research interests.
Ryan LaBrie, Professor of Management and Information Systems
Both during my career at Microsoft and as a professor at Seattle Pacific, I’ve always enjoyed working with international scholars and students. I have collaborated on research with colleagues from Romania, Germany, India, and China. A large part of these international research projects investigates the similarities and differences of attitudes towards business and governmental use of big data. Whether collaborating with international co-authors, visiting and teaching at an international university, leading study abroad trips, speaking at international conferences, or just traveling internationally, I find the connections and relationships formed to be the most rewarding aspect. What I’ve learned most from these interactions is that all of us are God’s children, and we have abundantly more similarities and far fewer differences than what we might initially believe.
Alumni: Where Are They Now?
We caught up with three alumnae making a global impact.
Alexandra Jegou-Danon ’12
Program Manager in HR Operations for Google in Dublin, Ireland
BA in Business Administration and Psychology, Seattle Pacific University; MSc in Industrial/Organizational and Business Psychology, UCL in London
Alexandra Jegou-Danon had not lived outside France until she attended Seattle Pacific University as an undergrad. That first cross-cultural experience sparked several more as she studied abroad in China, and then took a year post-graduation to backpack throughout Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. She’s worked in Australia, the United States, the UK, and now Ireland, where she oversees operations for Google’s core benefits in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).
“I love that I can grow my career while continuing to explore different parts of the world,” she says. “There really isn't anything like moving to a new country and learning about their culture and way of life. It opens your mind, pushes you outside of your comfort zone, and makes you grow, both professionally and personally.”
Alexandra explains that she’s found completely different cross-cultural challenges within the U.S., Australia, and now working with the entirety of EMEA. She recommends letting go of what you believe to be “the best approach” in order to better understand international counterparts, and embracing change. “Change is constant and everywhere nowadays, and the sooner you accept that, the easier it will be to adapt, and the more enjoyable it will be.”
Christalyn Steers McCrum ’10
Data Scientist at U.S. Department of State
BA in Philosophy and Political Science, Seattle Pacific University; Master’s in International Policy and Management, NYU
Christalyn Steers McCrum is on a mission to end AIDS. Before living in Washington, D.C., she worked for a nonprofit in India that served people with disabilities or HIV/AIDS. During Christalyn’s time at the organization, one of the young people with AIDS died.
“Frankly, I don't want that to happen ever again,” she says. “I hope that by harnessing emerging tech and innovation in data analytics, we can maximize the effectiveness and impact of our programs to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
Now, as a data scientist at the U.S. Department of State, she contributes to PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Christalyn hunts for new data products or analyses that can help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and also manages PEPFAR in Angola. She travels internationally about twice a year to countries such as Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and Angola to ensure compliance with grants and to launch new programs, such as one that incorporates biometrics into clinics.
“It’s exciting to see that everywhere, people want to make the world a healthier place, a safer place, a better place,” she says. “Every day my worldview is challenged and reinspired by the sharp and passionate perspectives of my colleagues around the world.”
Molly Merriman ’19
Development Assistant at World Relief Seattle
BA in Global Development, Seattle Pacific University
Last year, World Relief (WR) Seattle served about 6,700 refugees and asylees, and helped resettle 757 people from 27 countries in the Seattle area.
“I like how World Relief empowers that population to become self-sufficient,” says Molly Merriman, who started working as a development assistant at WR Seattle just before graduating from SPU last spring.
World Relief helps asylees and refugees transition to U.S. culture by pairing them with cultural companions who can help new immigrants navigate anything from transportation to grocery shopping. The organization also provides resettlement services, English classes, employment training, youth programs, and a community garden where people can grow and sell their own food.
“We plug people into the community,” Molly says. “It’s such a powerful thing. We need to advocate for people in vulnerable positions.”
In Molly’s role, she maintains and cultivates relationships with donors, volunteers, and churches to support the organization’s work. She’s currently helping to plan WR Seattle’s 40th anniversary gala. She says that her time at SPU helped prepare her for her current job through classes and her on-campus jobs as the SBGE office assistant and the fundraising coordinator for SPRINT.
“It’s interesting because I came to SPU not knowing what I wanted to do at all. It was unnerving,” she says. “I decided to involve myself in all of these things: student leadership, employment, and study abroad. My involvement accumulated into discovering why I want to work in the nonprofit sector.”
Meet Two International Graduate Students
Frank Tejada Martinez ’15, Peru, BAs in International Business and Economics, Seattle Pacific University; Master of Business Administration, Seattle Pacific University
Frank Tejada Martinez was 32 when he started at SPU in 2012 and had emigrated from Peru more than a decade prior. After arriving in the United States at 17, he earned a degree from Bellevue College and chased the American Dream. But once the recession hit in 2008, he found himself struggling to keep his home. He decided to enroll as an undergraduate at Seattle Pacific and then went on to pursue his MBA at SPU and will finish this fall. He spent the past nine months working as a project manager in Lima and plans to return to Peru next year to establish a new social venture company. Next, he hopes to move to Norway to continue his professional career.
How do you bring your culture to the classroom?
Latin American culture is very open, intensely vibrant and embracing. I open myself in many discussions to showcase that what we experience in Seattle is not necessarily the norm in the rest of the world. By becoming vulnerable, I have learned a lot about myself, my culture, and things that I need to improve. I have enjoyed great conversation among other students from around the USA and the rest of the world, where we have been able to see our differences, but, most importantly, our similarities. We have worked from there to build better and stronger working relationships.
How has SPU helped prepare you for a global future?
Not only has SPU allowed me the chance to study abroad in China, it’s also introduced me to students from around the world, as the MBA program attracts students from many countries. Many of my class colleagues are from Asia, Europe, and Latin America; their experiences and the way they navigate the business world have allowed me to expand my expertise. Being emotionally and culturally smart will set candidates apart. Many of the jobs in the future will become automated, and one will need to connect by standing out of the crowd by knowing how to communicate verbally, nonverbally, and in a culturally appropriate manner.
Charles Tay, Singapore, Master of Science in Information Systems candidate with a Data Analytics concentration
Charles was born in Indonesia and grew up in Singapore. As a student, he studied abroad in China and New Zealand. His military experience brought him to Hawaii, Taiwan, and Australia. He came to do his undergraduate studies at the University of Washington, and — except for a short internship in Brazil — has been in Seattle ever since.
How has living in different places changed how you see the world?
Having established my identity as a world citizen and avid traveler, I would say that I possess a global perspective. My international exposure has shaped my insights and the way I construct my thoughts. Hence, I am always bringing a fresh idea or method of doing things to the table.
How do you develop cultural awareness?
I believe that cultural awareness is key to world peace as awareness leads to understanding, acceptance, and tolerance. Cultural awareness does not happen by itself, or by reading books about cultures, or by watching YouTube videos about cities around the world. It happens through an open mind, open heart, and sincere interaction. A lesson I know too well after my first few experiences abroad, as no amount of prior knowledge about a particular place/culture helped me overcome culture shock. The people I have interacted with did! Therefore, at SPU, I believe that with every interaction between me and a local student/faculty member, cultural understanding is exchanged.
Andy Chen, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Data Analytics
BASc (Electrical Engineering), University of British Columbia, 2010; MMOR, University of British Columbia (Sauder), 2012; MSc (Big Data), Simon Fraser University, 2018; MSc (Machine Learning), Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019; PhD (Quantitative Marketing), University of California, Berkeley (Haas), 2016; At SPU since 2019
Dr. Chen's research interests are broad and cover the following areas: business analytics, data analytics, marketing strategy, consumer decisionmaking, digital and social media marketing, retail competition, healthcare management, and operations management. His research methods include statistics, operations research, econometrics, and, most recently, machine learning and big data. Dr. Chen's teaching philosophy is to connect class material to real-life applications and help students succeed in their careers. He has also provided career advice for students outside class with his experience in industry, graduate school applications, job search, and career planning.
Joon Sohn, Assistant Professor of International Business
BS, Sogang University, S. Korea (2006); MPS, Cornell University, New York (2010); PhD, Cornell University, New York (2018)
Dr. Sohn earned bachelor’s degrees in French literature and business administration at Sogang University in the Republic of Korea in 2006. After working in the private sector for two years, Sohn began studying at Cornell University, where he received a master’s in applied statistics, a master’s in organizational behavior, and a doctorate in the same field. Sohn’s research explores how local sociopolitical contexts influence organizations’ environmental performance. As an educator, Sohn believes that teaching is not only about delivering useful information to studentsbut also about helping students to generate innovative ideas through collaboration. Sohn is new to the Seattle area. Apart from church activities, he is still exploring the beauty of Seattle with his wife, Jen, and their son, Evan.
Caroline Zhu, Assistant Professor of Finance
BBA in Finance, Investment and Banking, University of Wisconsin, 2009; PhD in Finance, Duke University, 2014
Prior to joining Seattle Pacific University in 2019, Caroline Zhu was an assistant professor of finance at the University of Oklahoma.
Her research interest is in corporate finance, with a special interest in governance-related issues, such as investor activism and executive compensation.
When not on campus, she could be anywhere in Seattle, exploring with her husband and young daughter the beautiful city they are blessed to now call home.
Apply to our Master of Science in Data Analytics in Business Degree
Leverage your passion for data with our high-demand MS-DAB degree and take advantage of career opportunities in a rapidly expanding field. With the world’s most renowned tech giants right around the corner, MS-DAB graduates are uniquely positioned to change the game here in Seattle and beyond. The MS-DAB degree offers first-class data analytics education through the lens of the Christian faith and values. This program is primarily intended for early career professionals with at least one year of work experience. Apply today!
Free Graduate-Level Courses
At SPU, we want to be the hub of your ongoing learning! That’s one of the reasons we developed Faith & Co.: Business on Purpose, a free online course taught by Dr. Kenman Wong. This 8-week course is meant to equip and inspire businesspeople to approach their work as service to God and the common good. We will study short documentary films, which feature stories of Christians living out their callings in a wide variety of industries and positions. While the course is free, it can be taken for credit for a small fee. The course’s start date for the third session will be this January. We are also launching the second course, Faith & Co.: Serving Employees. simultaneously. Announcements will go out in late October/November.
AACSB Peer Review Team visit, November 3–5, 2019
SBGE first obtained AACSB accreditation in 2000. This was a significant milestone for the School and honored its founding vision to become a provider of high-quality, theologically informed business education. We strongly value the AACSB’s continuous review process as a framework to regularly assess SBGE’s mission, values, strategies and priorities.
Homecoming, February 7–8, 2020
Mark your calendars for Homecoming and Family Weekend February 7–8, 2020. Beginning in November 2018, you can register for this fun weekend filled with reunions, sports, theater, and the ever-popular student talent show!