Sean Lobo, ’09, will never forget the warm welcome to Seattle he received from the late Nicholas Waltner, ’90, Alumni Club of Seattle president at the time. “He ran it really well,” said Lobo, who moved from New York to Seattle in 2014 to work at Vulcan Capital. Waltner thoughtfully checked in to make sure that Lobo and his wife had a smooth transition to the Pacific Northwest.
“He was willing to open up his heart and time and energy,” Lobo said. “That left a lasting impression.”
Waltner’s life was tragically cut short in a 2016 traffic accident, but his memory lives on in Seattle’s active alumni club. Lobo, now the club’s president, wanted to continue Waltner’s legacy by welcoming Booth graduates who come to work at companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks as well as the many startups with Seattle offices.
“Our vision was to take what Nick had started and take it to the next level. We were focused on getting people back to events, and we did that with exciting and interesting content,” said Lobo.
The Seattle Experts
Seth Acker, ’08, Finance Manager, Microsoft
Amy Fulford, ’00, Managing Partner, enlight Consulting
Kristin Gallagher, ’08, Director, Russell Investments
Sean Lobo, ’09, Investment Manager, Vulcan Capital
Amit Mehta, ’03, VP, Eagle River
Scott Myers, ’94, President, CEO, and Director, Cascadian Therapeutics
Sergey Slepyan, ’15, Manager of Supply Chain Execution, Amazon
The Seattle club has had big success with several events that have broad audience appeal, including “Life after the NFL: How to Leverage a Winning Mentality When Crossing Industries,” a panel that featured former pro football players, and “No Longer Just a Matter of Taste: Strategic Innovation in the Food Industry,” which drew 150 people to hear from local restaurateurs. These types of events, said alumni club board member Kristin Gallagher, ’08, “really take advantage of what Seattle has to offer, as opposed to only focusing on traditional Booth strengths such as economic updates or the buzzword business topics such as big data. I’ve met such a diverse alumni base at these events.”
Scott Myers, ’94, president, CEO, and director of Cascadian Therapeutics, hopes to develop relationships with Seattle Booth alumni early—before they’ve even graduated. In late 2017, he sponsored a destination event for current Booth students to hear from leading-edge executives about the health-care industry in the city.
“We basically set up a couple hours here at Cascadian to let them study what we do for a living,” Myers said. “I had four of my people talk about how their careers took different twists and turns and how they ended up where they are today.”
Nick was willing to open up his heart and time and energy. That left a lasting impression.
Event locations make the most of what the city has to offer. The restaurants panel took place at the Russell Investments Center downtown (thanks to Gallagher, director at the company), which has a rooftop deck and offers beautiful views of the city. A 2017 panel, “The Future of Product Management,” convened at Amazon’s headquarters, where club board member Sergey Slepyan, ’15, works.
In spring 2018, the club realized its longer-term goal by hosting a half-day conference, which included a fireside chat with Bill Hilf, CEO of Vulcan, and panelists from Amazon, Cascadian Therapeutics, and the City of Seattle. “We wanted to create a half day of rich content that would be interesting to an audience of our alumni and peers of our alumni,” said Amy Fulford, ’00, a board member. “We wanted something that would be relevant but that would have a uniquely Seattle flavor.”
In addition to providing stimulating professional and networking opportunities, the club serves as a soft landing for Booth graduates who find themselves far from home. “I’m trying to give back to an organization that really helped me acclimate to an unfamiliar city and that was supportive in a difficult career transition,” said board member Seth Acker, ’08. “I wanted to do what tiny part I could out of gratitude for somebody, similar to all the work that Nick put in.”
Slepyan helps host events for Booth interns at Amazon, knowing it may provide future contacts should the interns decide to move there after graduation. “It’s a big decision to move to Seattle,” he said. The club—900 strong and flush with young alumni and recent transplants—provides an easy way to research a potential move and exchange information. “Alums come to the city and don’t have a sufficient sense of the social life around them,” Slepyan added. “Everybody is open to make new connections, to be involved, to get to know people.”
Those Booth alumni who have made the move to the Pacific Northwest express no regrets. “From a lifestyle perspective, there is such great balance between being very accomplishment-oriented and then enjoying all the fun things you can do in the area,” said Amit Mehta, ’03, a board member. On his time off, Mehta enjoys taking his 3-year-old daughter on hikes in the Washington Park Arboretum.
“The Pacific Northwest is just more chill,” Myers agreed. “People really value their quality of life here. There are a lot of outdoor activities and so many national parks.” He also let slip Seattle’s best-kept secret: “It doesn’t rain here as much as people think.”
The Family-Friendly Spot: Chihuly Garden and Glass
“Hands down, the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum is one of the most incredible experiences in Seattle,” said Fulford. She refers to it as her family’s happy place. “The chandeliers are so complex and the colors are so vibrant. When you look at the work and read about Chihuly’s team, you see beauty in ways that you hadn’t thought about before.” Don’t forget to check out the outdoor exhibits. “It’s fun to discover the beauty of that work intermingled with nature. Both of my kids love it.”
Seafood in Seattle is a must, says Seth Acker, who recommends Taylor Shellfish and their fresh oysters for a standout dinner.
The Place for Fish: Taylor Shellfish
“If you are in Seattle, you really should have some seafood,” advised Acker, who recommends Taylor Shellfish for a casual dinner. “It’s a retail place but they will actually pull oysters out of the tanks that you can eat there while you have awesome beer or champagne, whatever you desire.”
The Trendy Drink: The Nest at the Thompson Hotel
The in-the-know flock to the Thompson Hotel, opened in 2016, for a drink at The Nest, a rooftop bar warmed with fire pits in the evening. “If you look across the water at night, you get the most amazing classic Seattle view,” said Gallagher.
The Classic Dinner Out: Canlis
“If you’re more old-school, and you’re a little more dressed up, I recommend cocktails at Canlis,” said Acker. The fine-dining restaurant has been family owned since 1950, and it’s just a short cab ride from downtown Seattle. “They have the best service you could ever imagine,” Acker said. “You can go for the amazing meal, but sitting at the bar, having the bartender make you a great drink with the amazing views of the city, is a special night out.”
The Morning Pick-Me-Up: La Marzocco Cafe
Mehta is a fan of the La Marzocco Cafe, which also serves as showroom for La Marzocco’s eponymous espresso machines. The café shares a building with the radio station KEXP and features monthly selections from coffee shops around the world. “It’s like you’re going to a different coffee shop each month,” he said. “It’s got great music, great art on the wall, and a great vibe.”
Melrose Market, located in the hip Capitol Hill neighborhood, boasts several award-winning shops and restaurants.
The Alternative to Pike Place: Melrose Market
Don’t want to fight crowds? “I highly recommend Melrose Market,” said Acker of the multiuse building that houses a butcher, wine bar, gift shops, and the popular restaurant Sitka & Spruce. “It’s less touristy than Pike Place Market, and it’s right in the heart of Capitol Hill. You can walk to a lot of places from there.”
The Spot for a Walk-and-Talk: Myrtle Edwards Park
Gallagher started most mornings with a walk in Myrtle Edwards Park when she lived in the Belltown area. “It’s right on Elliott Bay. You’ll see seals out there, sea otters, and a range of birds, not to mention an amazing array of boats. People are out running, or walking their dogs or other animals—it is Seattle, after all. You get this beautiful view on a clear day of the Olympic Mountains to the north and Mount Rainier to the south. It’s just incredible.”
—By Claire Zulkey