TMMBA Study Groups: Team Sha-mazing

Team Shamazing
(L-R) Wen-Jen Chang, Senior Product Manager, AOL Inc; Teagan Densmore, Producer, GameHouse Studios/RealNetworks; Kevin Mcleish, Software Engineer II, Microsoft Corporation; Mike Palagashvili, Payload Systems Design Engineer, The Boeing Company; Tom O’Brien, Systems Engineer, The Boeing Company.

Meet Team Sha-mazing

Team Sha-mazing shares their experience in the TMMBA program. Read about the benefits of a cohort program, value of the network, their favorite classes, and the importance of study groups.

Wen-Jen Chang: I currently work for AOL Inc in South Lake Union. I’m a product manager for the AIM Mobile product suite, which means that I work on AIM and messaging applications on mobile devices. Previously, I was a device product manager at Samsung and a content/project manager with Nokia’s Developer Program team. I have been in the mobile industry for about 8 years, and before that, I was a network engineer/consultant working on internetwork infrastructures.

Teagen Densmore.: Currently, I’m a game producer at GameHouse Studios in Seattle, Washington. In 2002, I graduated from Santa Clara University with a BS in Computer Science. At that time, the job market was still bruised and battered after the dot com bubble burst of 2001. In October of that year, I was hired on as a customer service agent at GameHouse, which at the time was a small start-up, less than 20 people. As the company grew so did my role within the organization. I moved from customer service to game testing to software engineering and finally ended up as a game producer.

Tom O’Brien: I’m currently an engineer at the Boeing Company and have worked for them for about 8 years. I work on the defense side of the business primarily. I have spent the majority of my career focused on integrating supplier provided avionics into various 737 based platforms but have also worked in Flight Test and Systems Engineering. My current position is integrating electronic Warfare Self Protection products onto the P-8A Poseidon submarine hunter/killer.

Mike Palagashvili: and I’ve worked for Boeing for last five years. Currently, I am a member of 737 New Interiors Engineering team. We are plastic surgeons doing internal facelift so to speak. The project involves a lot of mechanical, electrical, systems, and even software engineering.

Kevin Mcleish: I currently work at Microsoft as a Software Engineer in the Windows Test team. I have been at Microsoft since 2002 after completing a MS in Computer Science at Colorado State. While I was in graduate school I took a business course and became interested in learning more from business methodology. As I spent time in the industry I became more interested in formally learning the financial side of business decisions and management methodologies. I went to informational sessions for a few of the University of Washington MBA programs and the TMMBA program aligned well with my goals. The program was geared specifically towards technology professionals and had a convenient 18-month timeline. Additionally I was looking forward to widening my network and learning from other professionals from different companies and different industries.

How have the different perspectives in your study group enhanced your learning experience?

Teagen: Our team learns from each other and depends on each other. We help each other understand difficult subject matter, manage our schedules and generally keep each other sane! Our different perspectives help us see situations and decisions from many angles, angles we may not have been aware of or considered otherwise. Your team forces you to develop a much wider field of vision, which is invaluable in life and business.

Mike: In retrospect, I can say my TMMBA teammates are the only reason I survived in this program. The folks are bright, supportive and hard working. I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved with a group of younger yet mature professionals mostly from outside my industry. I think the benefit is great in terms of both different perspectives and productivity. My team is very diverse professionally and culturally.

How has the TMMBA network been beneficial to you?

Teagen: The TMMBA network has helped me learn about new industries and opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. Additionally, I now have a huge network of friends who would bend over backwards to help me out; it’s nice to know that there’s help just a phone call away.

Tom: I can see how the TMMBA network can be beneficial in the future. Normally a person’s network is limited to those that they work with (at least primarily), but the program allows me to develop lasting relationships that are outside of my company that can be tapped when I am looking for career advancement or need to solve a complex problem outside of my company’s area of expertise.

What are the benefits of being in a cohort with others who are passionate about technology?

Wen-Jen: I really enjoy the cohort program, and it was actually another reason for choosing the TMMBA program. It’s a huge benefit to work with the same people throughout the whole 18 months of the program. It builds trust and great relationships among the team, and we’ll all be good friends afterwards. Since we are closer now and know each other so well, we can be very open and candid with one another. If something bothers me, I’m not afraid to bring an issue up as I feel that we’re all close friends. The cohort program is great, and I think it’s been an important part of my success in the program.

Teagen: Creative ideas inspire more creative ideas. Tech is very much about being creative to solve real problems. Being in a cohort where everyone understands and is passionate about innovation means you can take the discussion and discovery much farther; we like to push the limits to see how far we can go in creating new solutions.

Tom: Focus on relevant material! Since we all work in the technical field it is very easy for all of us to relate to each other. This means that we can establish relationships quickly and have things to talk about outside of what we’re studying in class. The cohort program in general also supports this relationship building because we are always together working on the same material. This was another one of the primary reasons for selecting the TMMBA program. These relationships also allow us to creating lasting friendships and network relationships that will last for a long time.

What have been your favorite classes and why?

Wen-Jen: I don’t have one favorite class, but I’ve really enjoyed the Marketing, Accounting, and Economics classes. Not only were the professors top notch, the information and tools you learn can be applied to your current situation at work and personal life. I really like the aspect of practicing and using what you’ve learned in class in a real world environment. Of course, my current classes are the freshest on my mind as I’m always thinking about them, but I’m really like our Marketing New Products and Entrepreneurship classes.

Tom: I’ve loved both of our marketing classes. As an engineer I generally take a “negative” attitude toward marketers; however there are excellent lessons that I have taken from these classes that will aid in engineering development and capturing future business for the company I work for. The professors for these classes have also brought humor and excellent examples to teaching of the material, in additional to relevant reading material, which makes the learning easy and able to remember long term.

Return on investment

Program Sponsor – Seung-Yu Kim
Seung-Yu Kim “We have sponsored some of our talented managers for MBA programs as a way of sharpening their expertise in the financial industry and at the same time enhancing their academic backgrounds. Meanwhile, I discovered that some MBA programs fail to provide practical business insights, but the Global Executive MBA program in Seattle, Washington was clearly distinguished from others.

With its diversity of candidates from emerging economies in Asia, the program greatly contributed to forming a global view and strong worldwide network. Further, the graduates in our group still remember the program with its strength in finance accompanied by in-depth discussion and analysis. When they came back, their efforts paid off. Two of the graduates are now serving as heads of a financial planning department, both in a financial holding company of which Hana Bank is the group’s main subsidiary.

MBA programs are now common. What matters is whether they are helpful in real-life business and making differences. As a supporter of the Global Executive MBA program in Washington, I was very happy with what they offered to our employees. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to the faculty of the University of Washington.”

Seung-Yu Kim
Chairman and CEO
Hana Financial Group

Program Alumnus – Jae In (Johnny) Yoon
J. Yoon “Ten years ago, with my company’s support, I made a life-changing decision to go back to school to get my MBA. During that period, I was working hard, but felt that I needed further education to make meaningful impact for my company. Because I have been in international sales for 15 years, I wanted to experience a global education. Fortunately, the CEO of LS Cable had proposed and recommended me to join the Global Executive MBA program at the University of Washington in Seattle.

This was a unique opportunity for me. Not only did GEMBA allow me to develop my skills in business administration, the experience of living and studying in the United States for 12 months really broadened my perspectives and improved my English proficiency.

The University of Washington’s Global Executive MBA program served as a very useful tool for me to satisfy my intellectual desires. The program brought together systematic and academic MBA curriculum, many competent professors and professional staff, and the most supportive learning environment. I had an opportunity to experience new trends and information what the top managements should have and know for their effective management.

After graduating and receiving my MBA diploma in 2002, I returned to the same company, the division of global sales and marketing where I was able to apply the knowledge through numerous case studies that I had learned in the GEMBA program. Through these successful applications, I was promoted as an executive.  My experience at UW was invaluable to prepare me to take on greater responsibilities in my organization. In addition to the academic rigor that focused on relevance and application, GEMBA also gave me the confidence and tools to communicate my thoughts more effectively with others.

Needless to say, the time my family and I spent at the University of Washington Foster School of Business was very memorable moment in our lives. I strongly recommend to my junior colleagues and fellows to join UW Foster’s Global Executive MBA program. If I have the authority, I will regularly send people to this program.”

Jae In (Johnny) Yoon, GEMBA 2002
Senior Vice President – Sales Division
Energy Cable & System Business Group
LS Cable Ltd.

VholdR – market leader in HD wearable camcorders

Founders Marc Barros and Jason Green pose with outdoor gearWhen avid skiers Marc Barros and Jason Green were entrepreneurship undergraduates at the University of Washington, they tried to share videos of the thrills and spills of their downhill adventures with their friends. Their initial attempts were dismal.  “A frozen mountaintop is a grueling and unforgiving environment for video camcorders,” said Barros. “And when you’re zooming downhill, crashing through trees with ski poles in your hands, it’s just not smart to hold a camera.”  The two devised a simple helmet camera to make action video easy to shoot and easier to share. That was in 2003. Their newest product, the Contour HD, was named a Top 20 Holiday Product for 2009 by Time Magazine and a 2009 Top100 Gadget by Wired Magazine.

Barros and Green entered the 2003 UW Business Plan Competition with that first helmet camera and took third place, winning “just enough money to afford the rent on a chilly warehouse,” Barros said. But that seed funding gave them the foothold they needed:  the two friends began building and selling their cameras and introduced a series of innovations that enhanced the “hands-free capture and effortless online sharing of action and travel video.”

Fast forward to 2009. VholdR introduced the world’s first HD wearable camcorder and made the list of fastest growing companies in Washington. “What makes us really proud is that we’re profitable,” said Barros, “with more 300% revenue growth from 2008. We’re selling our ContourHD cameras in hundreds of outdoor sports retailers across the United States and in 45 countries.  More than 75% of our camera owners actively publish video content on the community.”  Barros says that VholdR, whose tag line is “Wear it. Shoot it. Share it,” expects to double again in 2010. Check it out:

WATCH VIDEO from USA Today: High-definition equals high sales for wearable video camera

A visit with the oracle, Warren Buffett

MBA Students in Omaha SnowEvery year the richest man in the country (or maybe 2nd richest depending on the most recent Forbes article) Warren Buffett invites groups from 5 to 6 business schools to visit him in the unassuming town of Omaha, Nebraska. The premise is simple. 120 business school students from across the country put on their best suits, tackle the Omaha snow (see photo), pepper Mr. Buffett with questions for over 2 hours, and then he takes us to his favorite restaurant in town for steak and root beer floats.

In early February, I was fortunate enough to make the trek. Naturally, people keep asking me what I took away from the trip. I respond with random facts about Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate philanthropy program and Buffett’s friendship with and admiration for former Geico executive, Lloyd Kreeger. And I love to share some of Buffett’s best lines such as, “You can’t make a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant.” He followed, laughing, “I probably should have told Tiger Woods that.” That’s classic wisdom, both literally and figuratively, and it demonstrates just how sharp and witty this 78-year-old man is.

BuffetwalletWhy does he meet with MBA students?
It is certainly not for us to hear stories we can see him tell on YouTube, nor to make sure I have a photo of me with an awkwardly devilish face stealing his wallet (see photo). No, I think this is Mr. Buffett’s opportunity to share his vision for investments, business, and life with the next generation of business leaders.

Buffett’s vision: Find passion, practice simplicity.
The man has more money than I can comprehend. Buying 120 people lunch is like me buying a gumball, or more likely, sharing a gumball. But he drives a simple car (a 1980s Cadillac), has lived in the same home for his entire life, and doesn’t seem to want more. His investment philosophy is the same. Find an undervalued company with good management, buy low, sell high. He doesn’t need fancy financial products that no one really understands; he just looks for good businesses. Oh, and he loves what he does. You can see how it sustains him, keeping him engaged day in and day out. I think he wanted to show us that. At a time in our lives when we’ve taken ourselves out of the workforce to build our skill set and reflect on our careers, he wanted to show us that money follows passion and simplicity brings happiness.

Meghann Glavin is a University of Washington Foster School of Business full-time MBA student slated to graduate in 2010. 27 Foster MBAs met with Warren Buffett this year.

Many shades of green

Guest blog post by Rita Brogan, CEO of PRR

RitaBroganThe National Smart Growth Conference held in Seattle in early February featured a track on social justice. Various speakers discussed the challenges of integrating people of color into the green movement. One need only go to any gathering of environmental activists to observe the reality of this demographic homogeneity.

Is green the “new white?” Does this “unintentional exclusion” translate into fewer economic opportunities in the emerging green economy?

Communities of color have a strong stake in environmental quality. Our communities are typically more likely to experience disproportionate environmental impacts from urban development. Furthermore, many of our traditional cultures are steeped in sustainable practices such as urban agriculture, conservation, reuse and high transit usage.

Putting aside the fact that these practices are usually driven more by economic need than environmental ideology, one could argue that communities of color are true pioneers of sustainability. Sustainable behaviors are integrated into every aspect of our cultures as a way of life, rather than as a political statement. Sustainability is not simply about the environment, but also embraces the need for economic and social sustainability. Communities of color offer receptive markets and traditions of environmental behavior that are ideal opportunities for the green marketplace.

Our challenge as minority entrepreneurs is to embrace and expand on this integrated view of sustainability. How can we bring green technologies to help our people save money on energy? How can we make it easier to grow healthy crops that nourish our families without the risk of pesticides? How can we educate our young people to choose quality of life over quantity of goods?

Green economy opportunities abound in our own backyards.

Rita Brogan is the CEO of PRR, a public affairs and communications firm based in Seattle that is nationally recognized for its work in social marketing, public involvement, and community building. PRR is one of Washington’s 50 largest minority-owned businesses. Brogan was a recent recipient of the Foster School’s Business and Economic Development Center Asian/Pacific Islander Business Leadership Award. She will be writing the BEDC Brogan blog series twice a month, focusing on green economy issues with an emphasis on ways that businesses owned by people of color or women can create a competitive advantage.

Podcast: Social media as a leadership tool

This morning’s UW Foster School of Business breakfast lecture focused on the social media revolution. Richard Law, CEO of Seattle-based Allyis, talked about “Social Media as a Leadership Tool” and how executives can socialize their way to employee engagement, retention, collaboration and success.

Law touched on the communication game that’s already changed due to social media, ROI of engagement, statistics, social media being a broader concept than just its platforms of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Conversations among customers, employees and their peers now help create brands.  Two-way dialogue is the best way to represent a brand and Law offers tips for staying competitive in today’s marketplace.
RSSListen to podcast on social media.

Video extra: The Generation Y workforce will equal Baby Boomers in numbers, and Gen Y’s digital media presence is noteworthy. Law played this four-minute “Socialnomics” video about current social media use and demographics.

This lecture is part of Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series, an event for business leaders and faculty to share insights about current business topics and trends with other business leaders, alumni, faculty, students and the Foster School community.

Foster students consult for Brazilian restaurant in Seattle: part 2

Watch the second installment of our video series following student business consultants from the Foster School as they help a small Brazilian restaurant improve its bottom line and sell its hot sauce. Undergraduate students visit the restaurant for the first time on January 12, sample the food and hot sauce, and finalize their consulting contract with the business.

This is the second of a series of videos on Foster Unplugged where you can follow the five-member student team assigned to help Tempero do Brasil, a restaurant at 5628 University Way Northeast. Check back to follow more of the student team’s efforts as the winter quarter class progresses (under Student Life blog category).

The team was organized through the UW Business and Economic Development Center‘s Marketing 445 class. During winter quarter, dozens of students join teams and are paired with professional consultants from Hitachi Consulting, Deloitte, Ernst & Young as well as senior executives through the Seattle Rotary Club to help minority business owners expand their businesses and improve their bottom lines.