Skip to main content

Alumni in Action

Business Casual: March 2021

By Alumni Relations

March 17, 2021

Business Casual logo

An informal but informative newsletter for WSB alumni and friends

students waiting in registration line
Hat? Check. Mittens? Check. Patience? Absolutely necessary. UW–Madison registration back in pre-digital days was, literally, a slog compared to how it works now. Here, business students get in line outside on the slushy sidewalk to sign up in person for classes in the 1980s. UW Archives (ID S00166)

The Briefing

microphone icon

Dean Samba shares WSB story with statewide audience

Dean Vallabh “Samba” Sambamurthy shared with Wisconsin Public Radio the ways WSB is leading and growing. “Business schools are a hotbed of innovation,” he says. “Fascinating ideas are coming forward about the role of business and the kind of skills business professionals need.” Dean Samba also talked about how the pandemic has driven innovation throughout higher education.

musical notes

New “Business of…” series kicks off on a high note

Music is a business like any other and like no other. UW–Madison and WSB alumni shared tales of why that’s true in a lively launch of a virtual series that goes behind the scenes of intriguing industries. The pandemic has created a strange time in the industry, says entertainment lawyer Heather Beverly (BBA ’93). “We’ve had to help the clients who are suffering, but weirdly there are a lot of other things going on,” she says. “So it’s a busy time.” Next up: The Business of Chocolate on May 19.

sprocket icon

New program helps students land their dream job

Not every undergraduate student comes to WSB knowing what career they want. The School’s new Career Forward program helps turn their interests and aspirations into a blueprint for their ideal career. The program builds on WSB’s strength in career coaching, opportunities in its new Career Engagement Studio, and relationships with employers. The collaborative and innovative initiative provides career support from students’ first day at WSB to graduation and beyond.

The Ticker

Outline of a backpack

Back to School

What is design thinking and why is it important for business?

Design thinking is a disciplined process deeply rooted in consumer empathy that helps organizations find solutions to complicated problems. While its human-centered approach to problem-solving has applications in many fields, it’s particularly valuable in business to help develop new products and services that are desirable, feasible, and financially viable.

“Design thinking is focused on a process that challenges an organization or leadership to develop a deep empathy with its customers or users,” says John Surdyk (MBA ’03), director of UW–Madison’s Initiative for Studies in Transformational Entrepreneurship. “You need to deeply dive in to your customers’ needs and desires and investigate their pain points in a way that might not have been appreciated in the past.”

With empathy comes opportunities to add value, Surdyk says, as well as unlocking a new market or generating more sales with an existing customer base.

WSB offers a class in design thinking, and partnered with four other UW–Madison schools and colleges to offer a master’s in design and innovation that was new in Fall 2020.

To learn more, register for WSB’s Alumni Webinar about design thinking on April 14 from noon to 1 p.m. CT.

Outline of a check list

Tip Sheet

We are negotiating whenever one person wants something from another—that is, pretty much all the time. While negotiating can be complex, Management and Human Resources Professor Charlie Trevor offers some helpful fundamentals.

Do your homework. Know exactly where you stand with regard to your target, bottom line, BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement; that is, your next best option if you cannot make a deal), and the market in which you are operating.

Focus on your target, not your bottom line. Negotiators who think more about their targets get better deals.

Anchor the negotiations. If you know the market, make the first offer. Be a little aggressive (but not absurd). You’ll look flexible as you retreat toward your target.

Wait and see. If you do not know the market well, don’t be the first to throw out a number. Don’t pleasantly surprise the person across the table!

Consider the big picture. Sometimes negotiations are about fairness or relationships, not just price. Do you really want to risk alienating your new hire or new employer by pushing hard to “win” on salary?

For more information, Professor Trevor suggests Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People by G. Richard Shell.

Alumni Opportunities

March 23: MBA Student/Alumni Speed Networking

April 6-7: Day of the Badger

April 14: Alumni Webinar: “Design Thinking”

April 28: Badger Executive Talk: Tom Falk (BBA ’80), former chairman, Kimberly-Clark

May 19: The Business of Chocolate

Past events: Watch previous Alumni Webinars, Badger Executive Talks, and M. Keith Weikel Speaker Series

Job search resources: Online tools and videos to help plan a career move now or in the future

Class Notes: Tell us what’s new in your life! Submit a Class Note to share with your fellow Business Badgers

About Business Casual

Every other month, alumni and friends of the Wisconsin School of Business will receive insider updates with news about our alumni, faculty, students, and programs. If you want to share Business Casual with friends, they can sign up at

Questions or comments? Email