Category Archives: MBA

Evening MBA transformers: Alicia Boaz

Alicia BoazOnce: human resources generalist
Now: business manager

Tell us about your previous career: The first six years of my career were in human resources, which was a logical step after ten years of experience coaching figure skating and completing an undergraduate degree in management and psychology from University of North Carolina. My previous career began at ATA Services, Inc., a staffing agency headquartered in Denver, Colorado that provides business and technical services to U.S. government agencies like the United States Geological Survey and Sandia National Laboratories. Then I spent over three years with a Seattle-based renewable energy department of a large Norwegian risk management company, Det Norske Vertias (DNV). Over my six years in human resources, I gained experience in mergers and acquisitions, recruitment, employee development and compensation.

What are you currently doing in your role? My role as a business manager gives me the opportunity to lead the business planning process, land strategic go-to-market initiatives and manage the internal and external communication plan for the Platform team of Microsoft’s Learning Experiences Department. As a member of the Platform leadership team, I impact the broader strategic and operational needs of the team, with a particular focus on managing the annual budget.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? When I started to consider a career transition, I utilized the MBA Career Management to strengthen my resume and highlight the experiences gained from courses, case study competitions and MBA consulting projects. During my second year, I participated in the Mentor Program where I met with a local business leader who helped me understand how to take my career to the next level in business. Since most of my previous experience was in human resources, the first two years of core classes helped me understand the foundation of business so I could incorporate that knowledge into the next stage of my career in business.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? My advice is to figure out what’s important to you in the next step of your career. When joining the MBA program, I was anxious to join a leadership team where I could have a bigger impact on the business than I was able to in my human resources role. Your classmates ask what direction you want to go next with your career, so it helps to have an answer. You never know when one of your classmates will have an open role that fits the next step in your career.

Evening MBA transformers: Raquel Barrett

Raquel Barrett Once: medical device sales, Valeant Pharmaceuticals
Now: director of marketing, Gratafy

Tell us about your previous career: As a business development manager for a medical device company, I was primarily responsible for achieving annual sales targets through the identification, development and maintenance of strategic partnerships.

What are you currently doing in your role? I had the opportunity to join Gratafy when there were only six employees and help build the company from the ground up. As director of marketing, I am responsible for the company’s growth and marketing efforts as they relate to acquisition, expansion, engagement and retention.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? The Evening MBA Program was key in my development as a manager and marketing professional. When I reflect on my time at Foster, I attribute much of my learning and success to the wonderful professors and my diverse and engaged classmates.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? Instead of chasing a specific career goal, understand how you actually want to feel in your life and in your career after you graduate. Use these desires to help guide what classes you take and clubs you join, and to inspire your time Foster.

Evening MBA transformers: Lani Aviado

Lani Aviado Once: non-profit program director
Now: manager, Energy and Waste Solutions Consulting

Tell us about your previous career: Prior to attending Foster, I had about ten years of non-profit work experience, mostly in development and program management. My last role was working for an adoption and relief organization, and I managed a small team of individuals who helped parents adopt special needs children domestically and internationally.

What are you currently doing in your role? I currently manage a team of 26 within Ecova’s Waste Solutions Consulting arm, supporting large companies by minimizing their current waste consumption and eventually driving a zero waste profile through recycling, composting and right-sizing programs. I’ve also worked on the utility side for Ecova, managing retail marketing and multi-family property energy savings programs for local utilities.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? Prior to my MBA experience, I lacked a solid body of financial and metrics-based knowledge (I was a humanities major in undergrad). I wanted an MBA because I hoped to transition into the for-profit sector and knew I had to build my business skills. After working with career counselors, getting a mentor and aggressively building my network, I was hired by T-Mobile through one of the career fairs hosted at the UW. I then moved into sustainability consulting, blending my non-profit and for-profit experience seamlessly, right after I graduated.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? It’s important to know where you want to go and what you want to do next if you want to make that transition. If you’re unsure, talk to as many people in different fields as you can and get a sense of the role you picture yourself doing, no matter the price point. Once you find that ideal role, identify key people in your class and/or in your organization in these roles and ask them what core capabilities they need to be successful. Then focus your energies on building these skills and taking the classes you need to grow in that space. Know that to really get the most out of this program, it will consume your life for two to three years. But once it’s over, your perspective on business and life will be different, broader, and your network, if you worked on building it, will be extensive and awesome and will help you make those next steps down your new career path.

Evening MBA transformers: Sarah Eytinge

Sarah Eytinge Once: Fundraiser
Now: Associate Director, University of Washington

Tell us about your previous career:
I was drawn to fundraising because loved helping people find ways to support causes that are near and dear to them. And I loved working as a fundraiser in education specifically because it is the gift that keeps on giving. When I decided to pursue my MBA, my plan was to remain in the fundraising world and perhaps transition into a consulting role to help non-profits.

What are you currently doing in your role?
I am currently the assistant director of Admissions at the Foster School of Business. This is part marketing–how do we best showcase our product, how do we find our students–and part recruiting–working with prospective students to identify if and how Foster can provide them with the tools they need to grow professionally.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role?
In addition to meeting members of the fabulous A-Team and learning more about their roles, I found that the Evening MBA Program brought in students from different backgrounds and professions. Having only worked in educational fundraising, I was naïve to the types of jobs out there. As I met my classmates during my first year, I kept thinking, “Wow, that is a really interesting job.” Or “I wonder if I could be successful at something like that.” Classmates were more than willing to share their experiences with me and offer advice about potential careers. That information was indispensable. As I continued through the MBA program, I recognized my true passion was connecting people so I started to explore opportunities where I could do just that. HR was a natural fit–but upon talking to some classmates in that field and with MBA Career Management counselors, I narrowed in on recruiting. When the opportunity opened in Foster’s Admissions team, I knew it was the perfect role. It combines my love of education with my interest in connecting people. I also get to utilize the marketing skills that I gained in the program.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition?
Talk to your classmates. One of the best things about a part-time program is your classmates are working professionals. They bring a wealth of knowledge and countless connections. Everyone was more than willing to help me find opportunities and figure out what would be best for me. Every classmate seemed to be benefiting from connections made in the classroom in some capacity. What they say about the network in business schools is true—it’s priceless!

Sustainable Big Macs: The plan for a leaner, greener McDonald’s

McDs_Langert1Imagine going into a McDonald’s and learning that all of the beef used in their hamburgers was sustainably sourced. Not only that, but the restaurants were using less energy, recycling more and adding more fruits and vegetables to their menu. Seem far-fetched? Not when you learn that the company, famous for its fast, low-cost food items, has been developing sustainability initiatives for the past three years. Enter Bob Langert, McDonald’s Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and keynote speaker at Foster’s Fourth Annual Idea Lab. Speaking to an audience full of MBA students and Puget-sound area business leaders, Langert talked about supply chain, consumer buy-in, and championing sustainable beef at the home of the Big Mac.

Having labeled McDonald’s as a company in transition, Langert hopes that their involvement in the sustainability movement– which he thinks is “too small [and] too niche”– will jumpstart supplier and consumer buy-in. McDonald’s has developed a plan, dubbed “Our Journey Together. For Good”, to make their menu both healthier and sustainable. The plan’s goals include:

  • To begin serving sustainably sourced beef by 2016
  • Add more fruits and vegetables by 2020
  • Reduce fat, sugar and overall calories in their food
  • Provide 100 percent sustainably sourced coffee
  • Reduce restaurant energy consumption by 20 percent
  • Increase in-restaurant recycling by 50 percent.

To achieve these goals, McDonald’s first priority is to address the supply chain—which Langer believes accounts for 80 percent of the corporation’s environmental impact. While aggressive, this certainly isn’t the first time the Golden Arches has addressed food sourcing.McDs_audienceClose

Dressed in chicken suits, Greenpeace activists staged protests in European McDonald’s restaurants with the hopes of raising awareness of deforestation in Brazil due to soya production in the Amazon. As it turned out, Amazonian soya was a major source of soy for McDonald’s food products. Surprising cynics (and probably a few Greenpeace protestors), Langert met with the activists, even traveling to the Amazon with them to get a first-hand picture of the devastation. Within three months, Langert says, McDonald’s was able to negotiate a moratorium on Amazon soya. Reflecting on the experience, Langert said, “[I’m] proud of the work, not proud that it came through a crisis.” The soya-based deforestation problem was a watershed moment for McDonald’s, driving the company’s other environmental initiatives like responsibly sourcing their coffee and their fish—100 percent of which comes from sustainable fisheries. With a focus now placed squarely on their beef suppliers, McDonald’s hopes to do the same for the millions of hamburgers they sell each day.

From enlisting the consulting expertise of famed animal science doctor and autistic activist Dr. Temple Grandin to honing in on their message, McDonald’s approach to the beef industry has been multi-pronged. Recalling his keynote speech at the first annual Ranch Sustainability Forum earlier this year, Langert reiterated the importance of coming together as a community to be more environmentally responsible and forward-thinking. “I kept saying we’re on the same page. We want sustainable beef to sell more beef.” However, Langert knows that sustainability isn’t limited to suppliers. Pointing to the trouble their European restaurants are having convincing their customers to recycle (crew members are manually separating garbage from recycling), Langert acknowledges there’s still a long way to go. When asked if it’s possible that customers are fatigued by sustainability messaging, Langert half agreed, stating that while McDonald’s Chief Brand Officer is coming up with “disruptive ways to reach consumers” he knows that what they’re doing right now is not enough. He added, “The plan right now is not consumer-centric. Our time now is being spent within the supply chain.” That’s not for nothing. Langert said that he continues to be astounded by the progress made on the supply side, stating that “suppliers discussing sustainability is a big deal.”

McDs_qaThere’s no doubt for Langert that McDonald’s has a challenging road ahead to achieve total supplier and consumer buy-in, stating, “When you try to develop something bold, there’s a lot of resistance.” However, Langert maintains that the folks at the Golden Arches are committed to taking sustainability beyond the “small and niche.” Within a few short years, McDonald’s may evolve in to paragon of environmental stewardship in the business world and possibly beyond. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

This event was co-sponsored by Foster’s Net Impact MBA club. Net Impact is a new generation of leaders who use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest problems. They put their business skills to work for good throughout every sector. By doing so, they show the world that it’s possible to make a net impact that benefits not just the bottom line, but people and planet too. Learn more about the club here.

$27,500 Awarded to Entrepreneurial Student Innovators

UW EIC 2014 Winners Korvata and NOVA Solar Window
UW EIC 2014 Winners Korvata and NOVA Solar Window

The annual UW Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC), now in its sixth year, challenges interdisciplinary student teams to define an environmental problem, develop a solution, produce a prototype, and create a business summary that demonstrates the commercial viability of their product, process or service.

23 teams were selected to compete in the 2014 UW EIC. Each of these teams proved that students have the potential to address our most pressing environmental needs—alternative fuels,  recycling, solar power, water treatment—with novel solutions that have market potential. After pitching their innovations to a group of 170+ judges—investors, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and experts from across sectors—the six teams with the highest scores were awarded up to $10,000 in prize money. Congratulations to this year’s winners:

$10,000 Grand Prize
Korvata (University of Washington)
Korvata has created a cutting edge alternative energy product that allows companies to mitigate their environmental impact by replacing the use of nitrous oxide as a whipped cream propellant.
(sponsored by the UW Center for Commercialization)

$5,000 Second Place Prize and $5,000 Clean Energy Prize
NOVA Solar Window (Western Washington University)
NOVA Solar Window combines the power producing capabilities of a solar panel with the utility of a traditional window. The utilization of transparent solar energy technology allows solar windows to provide renewable energy where traditional solar panels cannot.
(sponsored by Puget Sound Energy the UW Clean Energy Institute)

$2,500 Honorable Mentions
Loopool (Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Seattle Central Community College, University of Washington)
Loopool is reinventing the garment industry business model by creating a closed-loop supply chain, transforming reclaimed cotton garments and textiles into high-quality, bio-based fiber.
(sponsored by Starbucks)

Salon Solids (University of Washington)
Salon Solids reduces the amount of plastic waste and hazardous chemical consumption that occurs with most hair products. Its six-ingredient shampoo and conditioner comes in solid form, eliminating the need for the preservatives necessary for a product with water in it, and its packaging is recyclable, biodegradable and does not contain plastic, further reducing waste.
(sponsored by Fenwick & West)

Ionometal Technologies (University of Washington)
Ionometal Technologies has created a metal plating technique that allows for precise metal-on-metal deposition which can be used to repair gold test boards. The Ionometal printer prints metal plates that are smaller than can be seen with the naked eye.
(sponsored by WRF Capital)

Check out what guests, judges, and teams had to say about the 2014 UW EIC on Twitter: #UWEIC2014

Evening MBA Application Tips – Your Undergraduate GPA

Your undergraduate academic track record, including your grade point average, is a useful indicator of your ability to succeed in a graduate program. If you weren’t a straight-A student and think there are some weaknesses in your record, there are ways to boost your chances of admission, advises Tim Hossain, Director of Evening MBA Student Affairs.​

Watch other Evening MBA application tips videos.