Through my first two years in the Foster Evening MBA Program, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been asked what I’m actually learning. Friends and colleagues generally ask how I’m able to manage my schedule while working full-time or what I plan to do post-MBA. But there are very few who are eager to ask how the tools we learn in the classroom translate to increased productivity in the workplace or even at home.
There are countless benefits offered to Foster MBA students outside the classroom – social activities organized by the MBA Association, the Career Management Mentorship Program which connects Foster students with local business leaders, and the Foster MBA Strategic Consulting Program which allows students to gain experience solving real-world business problems.
But, given the amount of time and energy Foster MBA students invest inside the classroom – learning course concepts and fulfilling deliverables – I wanted to share how the curriculum is designed to maximize student growth. Rather than pretend to know all, I decided to lean on a few of my classmates, asking them to share about the classes at Foster that have had the greatest impact on their lives:
As someone who had never previously taken any business-related courses, I was extremely nervous to begin my MBA at Foster. But after the first quarter, I was pleasantly surprised at the very apparent thoughtfulness with which MBA student courses are offered. It’s no surprise to me now that many refer to “Financial Accounting” as “the language of business”, as it was the most helpful course that I took in my first year. I was able to immediately apply learnings from this class to my role at work, being able to keep up with and contribute to conversations on P&L, earnings, budget, and overall performance in a meaningful way. Realizing that I was able to use takeaways from class on a Monday and apply them at work on a Tuesday and use takeaways from work on a Tuesday and apply them in class on a Wednesday, was so unique, and I will always remember it as one my most powerful learning experiences.
Shun Grewal, Class of 2020, Evening MBA Program; Program Manager, Microsoft
I took “Global Strategy” in the spring of my second year. More than anything, the class made me realize how little I knew about the global economy. I learned how the opening up of trade between countries has accelerated the global GDP and reduced poverty worldwide, and I learned how the US has been a leader in the free trade movement. I’m better able to interpret current changes in policy and anticipate the impact they will have on the global economy. And I’m daily applying the lesson of checking my assumptions, looking for what the data says, not what I assume to be true. This has been incredibly valuable in my work.
Marie Kiekhaefer, Class of 2019, Evening MBA Program; Project Manager, Sporcle
Business Valuation and Investment Analysis
As an angel investor in the Seattle startup community, I often find myself having to come up with valuation estimates of both private and public companies to help make decisions on the next great investment opportunity. Until I took “Business Valuation and Investment Analysis,” my skill set in this area was weak, having gained my valuation knowledge and experience through experimentation and guesswork, with mixed results. This class was immensely helpful in expanding my toolbox, giving me a solid understanding of both the art and science of investment analysis through hands-on, practical projects involving real company data. Most importantly, it gave me confidence in the numerous assumptions I needed to make during an analysis, allowing me to better justify my final estimations. I have since been able to obtain better terms for my investments while being able to identify and walk away from overpriced opportunities that can often sink an otherwise successful portfolio.
Joe Nekrasz, Class of 2019, Evening MBA Program; Founder & Principal Consultant at J. Patrick Ventures
Foundations of Entrepreneurship
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to start your own business, look no further than “Foundations of Entrepreneurship.” As a founder and leader in startup incubators, Jacob Colker brings his many years of experience into the classroom. This class was different than most other classes I had taken at Foster thus far. In addition to helpful lectures on how to develop ideas, find customers, and raise money, Jacob also organized field trips to local startup events. One of the most memorable field trips was TechStars Demo Day, which fortuitously fell on the same night as our class. This rare opportunity allowed us to see real startups in Seattle pitch their companies and give us a taste into the world of entrepreneurship. Before this class, I felt like the market was already saturated with products and services. After taking Jacob’s class, I learned how to think more creatively, and now see many ideas yet to be explored.
Joy Zhang, Class of 2019, Evening MBA Program; Finance Manager at UW Medical Center
Both of my elective credits so far have been focused on entrepreneurship. When I started at Foster, I committed to learning what it would take to turn a good idea into a successful business. The class that has accelerated my knowledge the most in this area is “Entrepreneurial Finance,” taught by Professor Lance Young. The class taught me to think concretely about the financial terms we learned in “core” accounting and finance during the first year. Rather than memorizing or learning how to calculate things like the “inventory turnover rate,” Professor Young implored us to think about what these terms actually mean to real startup founders. After taking this class, I now know how to assess company financial statements to identify whether a firm is creating or destroying value. And I’m now equipped with the questions to ask and the tools to use if I were to start a company tomorrow.
Joel Graves, Class of 2019, Evening MBA Program; Communications Specialist at Washington Roundtable
Joel Graves is a member of the Foster Evening MBA Class of 2019 where he is concentrating on business strategy and marketing. He manages digital communication for the Washington Roundtable, a public policy nonprofit comprised of senior business leaders from major private sector employers in Washington state. His personal interests include education policy, tech strategy, leadership development, and Seattle sports.