Marilyn Kun, MBA '21, received the Oregon Executive MBA program's Vijaya Nair Transformation Award during an online ceremony with faculty, students, alumni, and program staff.
Faculty member Mohan Nair, whose strategic business transformation course is one of the program's most well-received electives, created the award to recognize business concepts that aim to make the world a better place while also generating profits. Nair named the award after his mother, who currently lives in New Zealand.
“My mother always led me to believe that serving others is like serving yourself," said Nair. “Not in a selfish way, but when you build a relationship with others—even those you may have never met—that sense of service changes you and transforms you."
The CEO of strategy advisory firm Emerge, Inc., Nair recently became one of New Zealand's Edmund Hillary Fellows, a group of entrepreneurs and investors bringing their energy and innovative thinking to that country. He is also the founder of several successful tech startups and spent nearly two decades in various roles at Cambia Health Solutions, most recently as the organization's executive vice president and chief innovation officer.
Thanks to her career as nonprofit leader at organizations in both Portland and Chicago, Kun is keenly aware of the scarcity mindsight faced by many nonprofit organizations. Her MBA capstone project—the basis for her winning award proposal—is a new venture consultancy that offers one-on-one and small-cohort education resources to help new and small nonprofit organizations gain efficiencies and increase revenue.
Kun described how her career and pursuit of an MBA have brought about self-awareness.
“I came into the Oregon Executive MBA with two goals in mind: to fill the gaps in my knowledge so I could be of better service to nonprofits and to gain leadership skills. I've learned that what I really needed was to become a good team member: take constructive feedback and grow."
She accepted the award in honor of the three strong women in her life—her mother, sister, and daughter—and thanked Nair, the Oregon Executive MBA administration, and her classmates for their guidance and support along her journey.