Friday, July 8, 2011 Nicholas Center Blog
Nicholas Center Visits the Pacific Northwest by Jim Seward

JimDuring the final round of the Spring project presentations, a group of Nicholas Center students was invited to visit Microsoft and to present their findings on data centers' strategy, management and ownership for the cloud service business to a group of company senior managers. Beyond the opportunity to work on such a topical project for one of the premier technology companies in the world, the Center students were hosted for an entire day of visits with various Microsoft business leaders.

Nicholas Center Board Member Mindy Mount prepared a full day of visits for the students that included topics such as Microsoft's cloud computing initiatives and strategies, their global finance solutions group, an overview of their treasury operations and Microsoft's trading floor, and an overview of the Xbox business. At the end of the full day of visits, the Nicholas Center students were able to have a greater appreciation of the opportunities and challenges for large technology companies like Microsoft in an increasingly competitive, dynamic industry. Our day ended with a dinner and an evening of stimulating discussion at a waterside restaurant hosted by Mindy and several additional finance executives from Microsoft. What a great day!

The following day, Nicholas Center Board Member Jeff Yurcisin was able to make arrangements for the students to visit Amazon and several senior members of its corporate finance and human resources teams. During our 90 minute presentation at Amazon, students were provided a complete overview of the importance of the finance function at Amazon, as well as detailed insights regarding financial performance measurement at the company.

The visits with two of the largest, most profitable and well-known companies headquartered in the Seattle area was a most rewarding end to a year full of challenging project assignments for the Center. One of the distinctive and most important aspects of our project work is to not only work with cutting edge companies but also for the students to have the opportunity to present their analysis and recommendations on-site. Without question, a trip to remember!