Episode 054: Ryan Polak, Bell Flavors & Fragrances

2024 summer break brings our first guest with a B.A. in Economics, Ryan Polak. Ryan is Associate Director for Purchasing at Bell Flavors & Fragrances; a developer and manufacturer of ingredients in many consumer products who sits in the upstream market of the consumer product makers.

Clients rely on Bell’s scientific expertise to be successful, and their food scientists rely on Ryan to deliver raw materials at scale and on budget. That requires him to constantly gather market intelligence on who has what, where, how much of it and at what price. Unfortunately, there isn’t just one answer to that question and that keeps him very busy. Listen in to hear how.

Episode 053: Part 2 Luke Balderson, Arc3 Gases

June is part 2 with Luke Balderson and a great discussion on leadership and organizational culture. We explore how Luke made the connection between these two interdependent concepts and how they create sustainable business success.

The servant-based leadership model discussed here begins at the top and requires discipline to scale and maintain. However, done well, this model of selflessly developing and enabling talent, creates a self-sustaining culture in its likeness and the benefits are significant. These human and organizational benefits become assets that, from a resource-based view, provide a competitive advantage hard for others to overcome. Treat your people well, I think I’ve heard that before?

Episode 052: Luke Balderson, Arc3 Gases

For May, we begin a two-part interview with Business Strategy & Decision Making alumnus Luke Balderson. This part 1, dives deep into Luke’s multidecade career in the far reaching and fascinating industrial gases industry.

Luke is a composed, experienced, and highly capable executive in a sector that demands clear thinking and strategic insight. These skills were honed by a remarkable father, a natural inclination to listen and learn, and an education that enables him to synthesize information into a strategic framework. Success in business necessitates understanding the value proposition for your customers, employees, and suppliers, and this can only be accomplished through curiosity and active listening! Interested? Give it a listen.

Episode 051: Roxy Kozyckyj, AdvaMed

For Episode 51, MS-EPA graduate Roxy Kozyckyj joins us. Roxy is Senior Director, State Government & Regional Affairs for the advanced medical technology association AdvaMed and has spent most of her career in healthcare policy, from advocacy, to intern, to analyst, capitol hill fellow, and finally lobbyist.

This experience gives her the ability to see how policy goals that serve everyone, require working, step-by-step through the interested parties. Roxy openly admits game theory plays a role in her work and backward induction seems to fit well here. Think of it this way, start with a policy goal, navigate backwards solving each preceding step, the resulting path theoretically achieving the desired outcome. Sounds strategic to me. Give it a listen.

Episode 050: Andrew Zarkowsky, The Hartford

It’s the end of winter term, and we’re talking insurance; you’ll be surprised by what you hear. Andrew Zarkowsky, MBA 2018, is Technology Industry Practice Leader for the insurance giant The Hartford and specializes in underwriting technology firms.

In this episode, Andrew explains what’s unique about insurance for technology firms and shares how today’s insurance companies rely on technology, data, and research to forecast risk and prevent client losses. Andrew also has an interesting story to tell about his MBA journey and the value of pacing while pursuing your MBA. It’s a story of balancing life, school, and work, and simultaneously super charging you’re learning. It’s a great strategy for anyone who wants to make the most of your learning.

Episode 049: Mollie Markham, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

For February, we host yet another successful woman from the economics department’s graduate program, Mollie Markham. After a brief learning experience pursuing politics at the front lines in DC, she discovered what she doesn’t want in a career.

Fully embracing that lesson and, with some great counsel from family, she entered DePaul’s graduate program. The rest is or will be legend as Mollie is now a Program Specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Her timing could not have had better, as she entered this role at the start of one of the Feds biggest developments in 50 years; the building of a new instant payment system called FedNOW. Happy, successful, and working on really cool stuff. That’s the recipe for a good life right there.

Episode 048: Check In with Dave Ziegelski, National Material L.P.

To kick off 2024, we begin a new, and perhaps recurring version of this podcast called Check Ins. Here, we’re going to welcome back previous guests to update the topics we discussed in our original interview. For our inaugural episode, we welcome back Dave Ziegelski.

Dave is Vice President of Information Technology for National Material L.P.; a partnership of over 30 business units in steel, metals, and related operations that is now one of the largest suppliers of steel in America. That is a high-profile role where there’s a lot at stake. Dave, though, has a way of boiling down the complex into simply, straightforward tasks. To me, a sign he’s not only very good at what he does, but likely a very good person to work with. Give it a listen

Episode 047: Marcin Taraszkiewicz, HDR, Inc

For December we offer part 2 with MBA alumnus, and rail industry veteran Marcin Taraszkiewicz. In this episode we talk about trains, trains, and more trains. Yes, Marcin plays with big toys on big projects, but his work really exists at the nexus of rail technology and client goals.

His industry recognized expertise helps clients navigate those often-competing forces towards better project outcomes. These large projects tend to have a host of competing stakeholder interests, and things can get complicated fast. Luckily, markets respond quickly to public priorities and, consequently, there’s some cool stuff happening in rail technology.

Big trains and cool technology, what more do you want!? Listen in…..

Episode 046: Marcin Taraszkiewicz, HDR, Inc

November begins a 2-part podcast with MBA alumnus Marcin Taraszkiewicz from the global design & engineering firm HDR. In this part 1, Marcin explains how he went from a design focused engineer to senior leader for large, multidisciplinary transportation projects.

A transformation that took time, some failure, learning to ask questions, and how to value those answers. He gives some great examples of how being open to learning, by whatever means, he developed skills and interests that he didn’t know he had or even wanted. The lesson is that even perfectly designed plans, developed in a vacuum, are often useless without the input of all the stakeholders involved.

If that isn’t strategic, I don’t know what is. Give it a listen.

Episode 045: Alla Antonov, Rio Tinto

October brings in MBA alumna Alla Antonov, to discuss her role as Principal Advisor, Commercial Strategy at the mining giant Rio Tinto. Alla specializes in the borates market. Rio, though, is a global, diversified firm with many products and an interesting business structure of four distinct operational entities and a single commercial team, Alla’s home, serving as its primary market interface for all products.

This is a great business with competitive advantage and high returns to capital. A nice place to be for any firm, but the question then becomes what are you going to do next? Rio Tinto isn’t standing idle. They’re innovating for efficiencies, embracing technology to lower environmental impacts and continuing to explore the world for the resources it needs.

It’s a good story and you should hear it.