Category Archives: MBA

Focus on career services drives MBA placements, ranking

Interview with Naomi Sanchez, Assistant Dean, MBA Career Services

In the recent U.S. News ranking of MBA Programs, Foster’s placement rate for 2012 graduates three months from graduation was higher than any other school in the top 25. Why did Foster do so well this past year?

Naomi Sanchez:  We started with great students. Beyond that, we had a very intentional program this year. We offered boot camps to prepare students for their interviews. We reached out to employers that had not been affiliated with Foster before and they began to recruit with our office. We brought on competencies that are necessary for the competitive work world, including people with background in corporate marketing, HR and finance. So we all have industry backgrounds that enable us to see what employers are looking for, and to make that very, very important match of students and graduates with corporations and companies – both large and small companies. It helps that we have a great mix in the Pacific Northwest of both entrepreneurial opportunities as well as the more traditional Fortune 100 companies. And, of course, we’re right next door to some technology giants, with Microsoft and Amazon in our back yard. Because Foster has such a great relationship with companies like these, we’re able to create networking opportunities that other students would not have.

You’re an advocate for getting students focused on the search for internships and jobs early in the MBA program. Why is that important?

NS:  We face the same challenge that career professionals across the country face today: How fast can we prepare our students for the work world, knowing that our students are here because they are interested in career advancement? Once we focus on that, we have to look at what we do here in MBA Career Services as something that begins even before they enter the classroom. We are looking at touch-points prior to the start of classes in the fall. We’re going to be taking a “fast-start” approach to reaching newly-admitted students prior to September. If you think about it, the profile of the new employee is based on what they did prior to the MBA program and what they are able to talk about in January of their first year. Students literally have only a few months in which to prepare for that first interview, which could determine whether or not they are employed the following year. So we need to get a head start on working with students because of the competitive nature of MBA hiring today. It’s as simple as that.

You’ve developed a system of working with students to help them effectively define their personal brand and market themselves to employers. Can you describe that system? Why has it been so effective?

NS:  What we did this year was a bit different. We made a concerted effort to get close to students. We instituted a peer advising program for second year students, who provide services and counseling to first-year students. For that to be effective, we had to understand what the second-year students were facing in terms of their career issues. We offered five grants to clubs to promote career services within their memberships. We also offered a professional development course that focused on recruiting, case interviewing and behavioral interviewing, business etiquette, business writing – all the essentials for a student being able to be successful in the recruiting process. We implemented a new software system that helps us to track every attendance of a student to any of our events. It allows us to note achievements, changes or challenges a student might have that our coaches can work with. I think that gets us into a different relationship with students, which helps us help them find the opportunities they’re seeking, because they often change over time. So there are a number of different initiatives I think have brought us closer to students.

If I’m a prospective MBA student who is considering applying to Foster, what do I need to know about the career services offered at the school.

NS:  If you’re a prospective student, I think you’re coming in at a time when the leadership of the school has realized the importance of career development, and has put resources in this area, and has built a world-class team of people that cares about every individual student. We provide advising, training for the recruiting process, help with salary negotiations, and outreach to the best companies that hire MBAs today – globally — and we are there to make sure that every student has the optimum opportunity to find a great job. As a result, I have full confidence that every student is capable of finding a great job – not just any job – but a great job.

Rotary First Harvest: adapting to new bylaws

Guest post by Laura Peirano, 2012-2013 Board Fellow

The Consulting & Business Development Center’s Board Fellows Program places Foster MBA and Evans School MPA students as non-voting board members of local nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit agencies participating in the program reach diverse communities with different passions and interests.

At the annual Net Impact conference in Portland in fall of 2011, I met Benjamin Rasmus who works for the nonprofit Rotary First Harvest (RFH). RFH locates surplus produce, coordinates the harvesting, packaging, and distribution of it in order to solve two problems: leftover crops that go to waste and hungry Americans in need of nutrition. I’m very passionate about nutritious food and the food system in America, so I asked Benjamin if RFH would want to partner with the UW Board Fellows Program. We had a group meeting and decided it was a great fit and I became the Board Fellow.

As a Board Fellow for Rotary First Harvest, I attended RFH’s strategic planning meeting in September along with many RFH Board of Directors meetings from May 2012 to May 2013. As part of the UW Foster School of Business Board Fellows 2012-2013 Nonprofit Board Leadership Seminar, I also attended twelve hours of class sessions during which I learned about nonprofit strategic planning, structural analysis, effective Board governance, and changing Board structures.

In order to get to know the way RFH works first hand, I volunteered at several work parties to help pack produce at Northwest Harvest and volunteered at the local food bank. The Northwest Harvest facility is clean, with an abundance of volunteers wearing hairnets and gloves, working tirelessly while chatting, laughing and getting to know each other. I was impressed by how easy it seemed to package food for 100,000 meals in four hours.

The University Food Bank receives produce from Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline, so a portion of the fruits and vegetables there go through RFH on the way. When I volunteered at the University Food Bank, I was able to witness the supply chain in action, as well as the people who are benefitting from this nonprofit’s amazing work. After sorting donated produce and organizing it in the food bank store, I helped check out customers and bag their groceries. It was rewarding to see people who would not have access to this food without the Food Bank picking out their food for the week. Rotary First Harvest plays its part by making sure more of the food available comes from wholesome fruits and vegetables.

There are hundreds of nonprofits in Washington State, and only thirty-six of them were selected to participate in the UW Board Fellows Program. Of all of these strong nonprofits, Rotary First Harvest has one of the highest functioning and successful Boards in the program, which made it difficult to find a topic with problems to solve. Since RFH recently updated its bylaws, I decided to focus on the transition from the old bylaws to the new bylaws and on ways that the transition could be more successful. My recommendations include evaluating the level of Board involvement, using metrics to evaluate Board success, and engaging the Advisory Board.

Rotary First Harvest Board of Directors is a successful, strategic and nimble Board that has identified and taken steps to correct the problems that have arisen. The fact that the bylaws are frequently reviewed and updated shows that the Board is continually looking for ways to improve. I presented my findings and recommendations in May 2013 to the Board of Directors. My recommendations suggest ways that the Board can continue to be successful and even exceed expectations. It was a great experience working with the board, learning how a board functions and how their strategic objectives shape the success of the nonprofit.

TMMBA Study Groups: Team Gangnam

Meet Team Gangnam: “Work Hard, Play Hard”

Team Gangnam’s name comes from the popular Korean pop song “Gangnam Style”. Gangnam is the name of a district in Seoul, Korea where people are trendy, hip, and work very hard during the day, but play much harder at night. This represents the team’s spirit and motto for working together in the Technology Management MBA Program.

They met for the first time last November at the Welcome Reception. Now, halfway through TMMBA, Team Gangnam reflects back on their experiences to-date in the program and as a team.

Sujeet Jha is a program manager at Microsoft and manages a team that delivers data insights to business leaders. He joined TMMBA to gain the skills to successfully manage a business – either his own or as a P&L owner in a larger organization.

Sejo Kim was most recently an interactive project manager with a video game publisher based in South Korea. He has 13 years of experience in the tech sector and chose TMMBA because of the technology focus.

Farhad Teymurian works at Boeing as a project engineering manager. His goal in the TMMBA program is to fill the gap between his engineering and management experience.

Ajith Prabhakara is responsible for developing the product strategy and roadmap for GoSmart Mobile, a sub-brand of T-Mobile. He chose TMMBA because the program fit within his work schedule, had in-class learning, offered a rigorous and broad-based curriculum, and had a strong reputation and alumni network.

Jay Iyengar has a background in IT program and project management. She joined TMMBA to gain a broader perspective on how people, process, and technology relate to each other, especially in the global economy.

Team Gangnam Collage








How has your study group enhanced your learning experience?

Sejo: I think that the best part of TMMBA program is the team activity. TMMBA students are extremely busy juggling their jobs and studies. Therefore, mutual aid among team members is essential for academic success. My team members are very smart, active and passionate so I get huge intellectual and moral support from them. On top of that, all my team members have different styles and strengths, which is very beneficial for me as well because all of them created a huge synergy effect as a team.

Sujeet: My study team brings diversity, different context, and different ways of approaching the same problem.

Ajith: My study group has made an incredible impact on my overall TMMBA learning experience! In addition to the teamwork and leadership skills that we’ve all learnt, I have especially enjoyed how our team discussions have exposed me to new ways of analyzing each situation. In addition, I’ve loved the cultural learning since our team had folks who lived in 5 countries between us.

Farhad: They have provided much needed moral support, added diverse experiences, enhanced each homework assignment and class lesson with After Action Reviews and group meetings. I benefit by hearing new ideas and seeing different approaches to tasks which I would never have thought of. In addition, their work knowledge and previous experiences are invaluable.

How much time do you spend studying individually and meeting with your team? What is a typical week’s schedule?

Jay: As a team, we meet every other Saturday and have a phone session on Tuesdays to check in on upcoming tasks, homework, and group projects. On an individual basis, most Monday/Tuesday evenings are spent getting ready for the Wednesday class and Thursday/Fridays are mostly spent getting ready for Saturday class – all depending on the workload of course.  (Take home exams are a whole different story. In my case, everything else is set aside until I have completed the exam).

Sejo: I usually spend 8 hours per week on individual study. Additionally, our team normally gets together every other Saturday morning to do group work. We actively utilize technology like Dropbox or Google Groups to improve efficiency of team activities. By doing so, we can collaborate very well as a virtual team.

Sujeet: In reality there are two kinds of weeks for us, one with classes on Saturday and one without any class on Saturday. We meet as a team for 3-4 hours on Saturdays (face to face, when classes are not scheduled) with two additional sync meetings over the phone on Tuesday & Friday evenings.

Ajith: A typical week’s schedule includes 3 hours of class time each Wednesday and an all-day class on Saturday. In addition to class time, I spend 10-12 hrs studying on my own and 3-4 hours with the team as needed.  Over a period of time, we did figure out more effective ways of reducing individual study time by working more efficiently with the team.

What classes have been the most valuable to you so far and why?

Ajith: Accounting, Finance and Marketing have expanded my knowledge. Ethics and Leadership have made me think critically about values that matter and leadership skills that I can continue to get better at.

Jay: It is hard for me to choose one course in particular, as I have found that the basic concepts and learnings from each course can be applied across other courses as well.

In general, most are fairly new to me, such as Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Micro & Macro Economics, Competitive Strategy and  Decision Modeling. I pleasantly discovered that a concept from one subject, when applied across to another subject, helped me understand the newer concepts even better.

Farhad: Leadership allowed me to become more self-aware and learn from every person and every event in my life. It also showed me personal areas for improvement which I might not have ever seen otherwise.

How has the TMMBA network been beneficial to you?

Sujeet: I recently interacted with a TMMBA alumnus at work who also happens to be one of my business stakeholders. This helped me hit the stakeholder relationship ground running. Other than that – having an interaction pool of so many bright professionals in our class gave me quite a few pointers on potential opportunities I may pursue in the near future.

Farhad: I have met the greatest people, staff, and instructors through TMMBA, including CEOs and guest speakers. I have made friends and helped friends, and have learned a lot about the inner workings of other companies as well.

What’s the glue that holds your team together? 

Sejo: A spirit of mutual respect is the key to our team’s success. Actively exchanging in feedforward (not feedback) among team members helped our team move forward.

Farhad: Respect and caring for each other. We have all become friends, meeting as each other’s houses and going out together for non-school dinners and picnics.

Ajith: It’s that we enjoy working together and want to have fun. I have a great time whenever we meet in person for our team meetings. Online collaboration tools and an effective team charter also make a difference.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering the program?

Ajith: Whole-heartedly commit to it!  This program is intense but, as I can unequivocally confirm, it is also a lot of fun!  So, when you are ready, have the requisite conversations with your family and at your work place and take the plunge.

What makes an Executive MBA different?

If you’re a mid-career professional, what type of MBA program is right for you? Many Executive MBA students find that learning with others who bring a similar depth of background and experience to the classroom is the key. As demanding as their weekly schedules can be, Executive MBA students are well-positioned to apply what they’re learning and bring the results back to their classmates for discussion. In this video, Executive MBA students Martin Fichter, Britt East and Lala Somma describe what makes an Executive MBA different from other MBA programs. Learn more about the Executive MBA program at the Foster School of Business.

How to fit an Executive MBA into your busy life

Without exception, Executive MBA students already lead very busy and demanding lives when they come into the program. Earning a graduate degree offers intellectual challenge and career advancement, but students have to adjust their personal and professional relationships in order to make room for the commitment required by their studies. For all, time becomes a more precious commodity, and an increased ability to manage it effectively becomes both a necessity and a benefit of the Executive MBA experience. Students Lala Somma, Britt East and Martin Fichter describe how they balanced the requirements of pursuing an EMBA with their personal and professional lives. Learn more about the Executive MBA program at the Foster School of Business.

How an Executive MBA can enhance your career

Earning an Executive MBA can have an impact in many different ways. For EMBA student Lala Somma, learning the language of business enabled her to present her ideas more effectively to senior management and prepare to run her own business. Martin Fichter found value in learning to put his work in a broader perspective and focus on taking actions that truly made a difference. Britt East discovered he was able to take on more challenging, high-profile assignments and gained a promotion while he was in the program. What impact could earning an Executive MBA have on your career?

How a Technology Management MBA can enhance your career

Earning an MBA is an investment that can pay off through your entire career, but even before graduation students see that the TMMBA Program is paying dividends. Anne-Marie Scollay gained a broader understanding of business and built confidence as a leader not only with her own team but across her organization. Realizing that he had new options for developing his career, Jeremy Hutton initiated an exciting process of self-discovery aided by program staff and fellow students. Deeply knowledgeable about technology issues in his work, David Lam began asking questions and proposing solutions based on the new business tools he had acquired. In interviews, they describe how the TMMBA Program has had an impact on their careers.​

How does the TMMBA Program focus on technology?

Students in the Technology Management MBA program are sometimes surprised to discover how much the curriculum is similar to other MBA programs at the Foster School. While many of the cases focus on technology, most of the topics covered are common to all businesses. Yet the fact that the majority of students are employed in technology-driven companies means that they bring this perspective to class discussions on accounting, finance, marketing, operations and strategy. As David Lam, Anne-Marie Scollay and Jeremy Hutton explain, that’s what makes the program really relevant for technology professionals.​

How do you know it’s time to go for an MBA?

The accomplished technology professionals who become TMMBA students return to the classroom for different reasons. Anne-Marie Scollay had just been promoted. She wanted to become a better leader and do a better job of making the business case for her proposals to top management. Earning an MBA was a logical next step. Jeremy Hutton wanted to accelerate the process of acquiring business expertise that would otherwise require years of experience. David Lam was inspired to pursue an MBA by a colleague years ago and was just waiting for an opportunity to enroll in the right program. After a recent move to Seattle, he found a great match for his technology background in Foster’s TMMBA Program.

How do you fit the Technology Management MBA Program into a busy life?

Students agree that a rigorous program of graduate study like the Technology Management MBA requires intensive time management and a clear sense of priorities if you want to get full value from the experience. Getting support from your employer, your family and friends and setting realistic expectations about how much time you are going to need to devote to the program are keys to success for the busy working professionals enrolled in TMMBA. Students Anne-Marie Scollay, Jeremy Hutton and David Lam describe the adjustments they had to make.