EWU Business School Launches Speaker Series

Organizers hope to redefine role in Community

March 18, 2024
crowd seated watching speaker

The EWU School of Business recently kicked off its inaugural speaker series, the Future of Work and Entrepreneurship in Spokane, in front of a big crowd at the downtown Catalyst. Those in attendance were treated to insights from Rand Miller, co-founder and CEO of the cult game company Cyan Worlds.

Rand Miller

In partnership with EWU’s Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis, the business school is counting on the speaker series to connect students with regional businesses, providing an opportunity to foster relationships with key industry players and to meet some of the very people who are shaping the workforce.

“The guest speakers are local business leaders and entrepreneurs closely related to the majors we offer,” says Abrahim Soleimani, PhD, co-chair of the management program and part of the business school’s leadership team. “The Speaker Series not only brings EWU closer to the community but also provides the opportunity for students to learn more about the future of work in Spokane and gain insights into the challenges and practical aspects of running businesses.”

Before Miller’s presentation, organizers told students in attendance that such events are a great networking opportunity as they look for internships and prepare to enter the job market.

“The thinking has been, for especially you students, we really want you to get to know some of the leaders in our business community in a setting like this,” said Patrick Jones, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis.

Miller shared the stage with his stepdaughter Hannah Gamiel, who is Cyan’s development director. Miller shared insights into how he and his brother, Robyn, started the company in north Spokane and enjoyed immediate success with the 1993 launch of their first game, Myst, which became the best-selling game in the world. And he spoke about the hard work needed to maintain the company, which is now the oldest surviving independent game studio the U.S.

Miller’s message to students who want to be an entrepreneur was straight forward: “You need to get an idea, and it should be something you’re passionate about because it’s going to cost you a lot in time and money. And if you don’t have an idea, you need to connect with somebody. Team up with someone who has an idea and they’re really excited about it, and they get you excited about it.”

Speaker series organizers are excited how the first event unfolded, and two more are scheduled at the Catalyst this spring.

  • April 10: Katy Bruya, senior VP and chief HR officer of Washington Trust, the largest bank headquartered in Spokane. She is on the boards of Downtown Spokane Partnership and Providence Health Care Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree (business) from EWU and an MBA from Gonzaga University.
  • May 15: Dan Roark, successful serial entrepreneur and Spokane native who returned to the city over 20 years ago to co-found a company making devices for the biopharmaceutical industry. He is now CEO of Gestalt, a Spokane-based but internationally active producer of clinical pathology software. He holds a bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry (Whitworth) and chemical engineering (WSU).