In a recent article in The Exchange, the magazine of Oregon State University College of Business, we enjoyed seeing the Kralj family featured. Mark Kralj, principal, and his daughter, Emily Kralj, shared their experiences with Oregon State and the institution’s impact on their family and work. “Mark has a long and distinguished career of service and philanthropy to the entire university, in addition to the College of Business. We are very proud of Mark for his contributions to Oregon State University,” said Jim Rudd, principal and chief executive officer of Ferguson Wellman.
A Business Beaver Colony
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Cut from the same cloth. Two peas in a pod. Just don’t tell lifelong Beaver Believers Mark Kralj (’77) and his daughter Emily Kralj (’09) that they are two birds of a feather.
While it wasn’t necessarily Emily’s plan to follow in her father’s footsteps, the duo’s parallel education and career paths have led them to the same building where Mark is a Principal at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management, and four floors below him Emily is a Senior Staff Accountant at Geffen Mesher & Company.
The Kralj family’s roots run deep at Oregon State, so it’s no surprise that Mark and Emily both found themselves here. Mark’s two older sisters went to Oregon State; so when it came time for him to choose a college, there was no other option. And while Emily considered going to college out east, the small-town feel and familiarity of Oregon State won in the end. Emily was indoctrinated into the Beaver lifestyle at a young age, growing up going to football games.
“I remember watching Oregon State beat #1 USC when I was 12 or 13,” she recalled, “and everyone rushed on to the field, and I was like, “I want to do that! That looks like so much fun!”
Neither Mark nor Emily came to Oregon State to study business, but it was the College of Business faculty that heavily inspired, influenced and changed the direction of both their career paths. Mark started out studying forestry, and while minoring in business he took his first accounting class with Professor Mary Ellen Phillips.
“I had never considered accounting,” said Mark, “but in taking that class as part of my minor, I realized it was my calling.” Little did he know at the time, but history would repeat itself 33 years later.
Emily started out majoring in engineering, and when she realized it wasn’t a good fit, she took her first accounting class with Professor Amy Bourne. Again, it was in this first introduction to accounting that Emily found her true passion and shifted her studies to business.
If measured by Mark and Emily’s success, one can safely say the switch in majors was a wise decision.
Mark has been with Ferguson Wellman for 24 years, and has been instrumental in growing the company’s assets from $380 million to $3.75 billion in that time. He also remains heavily involved in giving back – among numerous volunteer positions, including as an OSU trustee.
“I can’t really say enough about the good things that have occurred in my life because of Oregon State, and because of that I’m thrilled to be a part of the foundation, and to be there to create opportunities for the students of today,” Mark said.
Emily has been with Geffen Mesher & Company since she graduated in 2009, and focuses on tax accounting and business consulting. Wholeheartedly agreeing with her dad’s sentiments, Emily appreciates the role Oregon State has played for her family. “I don’t think our family would have gotten to where we are without Oregon State,” she said, “because it’s always been such a foundation.”