Category Archives: MBA

Real Estate Pro Gains Competence, Confidence and Connections

Meet Chinu Randhawa, Evening MBA Class of 2015

Chinu Randhawa, employed in real estate, had reached a plateau and decided to pursue further education as a way to explore options in her current field or other fields. When she enrolled in the Foster Evening MBA Program, she found an instant network among her classmates – active professionals with diverse career backgrounds. She also benefited from participation in Foster’s MBA Mentor Program. In her second year, she connected with a mentor who had changed careers several times and had applied her talents successfully in several industries. Entering the second half of her program, Chinu says the program delivered on its promise to supply her with “the three C’s”: competence, confidence and connections – a great foundation for the next stage of her career.

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Marketer with a Passion for People Values Classmates

Meet Allison Waddell, Evening MBA Class of 2015

An undergraduate degree in marketing helped Allison Waddell launch her career, but she wanted to expand her knowledge base and gain the strategic perspective on business offered by a Foster MBA. Sharing experiences with, and learning alongside, a talented group of classmates at the Foster School keeps her motivated. The Evening MBA Program offers her opportunities to apply what she’s learning in her day job and in field study projects with other companies. Along the way, she has mentored fellow students, served in a leadership role with Foster’s MBA Association and bonded with classmates on a study trip to Brazil. For someone with a passion for people and a drive to lead, the Evening MBA Program offers plenty of room to grow.

Watch other Evening MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Meet the 2014-2015 class of Fritzky Leadership Fellows

Each year, second-year MBA students are paired with first-year MBAs to provide peer coaching, leadership advice, and more. Get to know this year’s class of Fellows by reading their bios below. Learn more about the Leadership Fellows Program here.

Akiva Sutta-GomezAkiva Sutta-Gomez
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Originally from Israel, Akiva earned his BSBA from Hawaii Pacific University after completing his military service. Following graduation, he spent over four years in India where he created a joint venture with Bapu Nature Cure, with an emphasis on two healthcare facilities in New Delhi. In addition, he was the co-founder of The Avatar Group Consultants, a Delhi/Tel-Aviv based practice focusing on real estate in India. Prior to joining the Foster MBA Program, Akiva worked as The Texas General Manager for GP21, the second largest private sustainability company in North America. He focused on founding and operating the Austin and Dallas plants.While at Foster, Akiva is focused on building his skill set in the areas of finance and consulting. He completed his summer internship with the Strategy & Operations team at Deloitte Consulting where he worked on a strategy project at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.Away from business school, Akiva enjoys travel, exercise, and family.
Don Tulanon Don Tulanon
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Prior to Foster, Don Tulanon worked as a risk management consultant specializing in financial and professional liability insurance coverage. He has a BA in Economics from Brown University and a JD from Seattle University School of Law. This summer, he was a Platform Marketing & Strategy Intern at Concur Technologies. His project focused on competitive analysis and new product development.Don is excited to support first-year students as they navigate entry into the MBA program, as well as refining his own leadership skills through the Fellowship experience.Away from Foster, Don is working hard at the art of fatherhood. His two young daughters keep his negotiation and crisis management skills sharp. When time permits, Don treats himself to a Slurpee©.
Erin PoulterErin Poulter
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Erin Poulter is a second year Foster MBA student originally from New Jersey. Prior to her enrollment in the Foster MBA program, Erin graduated from Colgate University with her BA in psychology. She then became a member of the New Orleans 2009 Teach For America corps, where she taught special education in a K-8 charter school for two years and then spent two more years as the operations manager at the same school. This summer, Erin completed her internship at Starbucks, where she worked as a brand manager on the food team. Erin plans to continue to pursue a career in marketing after she graduates.Erin is excited and honored to be a Fritzky Leadership Fellow this year. She looks forward to giving back to the Foster community, being a positive resource for the incoming class as well as growing her own leadership skills.
Jared WilkinsJared Wilkins
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A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Jared worked as a logistics analyst for a commodity manufacturer in Dallas, Texas before beginning his MBA journey in Seattle. At Foster, he has been involved with a number of clubs and activities including Strategy Club, Sports Business Club, and the Net Impact Case Competition. His summer internship led him to Starbucks where he worked on the CPG Pricing and Promotion team.As a Fritzky Leadership Fellow, Jared is excited to challenge himself and grow his leadership skills while giving back to the Class of 2016 and the Foster program as a whole.
Jessi GreenJessi Green
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Originally from Japan and the UK, Jessi has lived and worked in Tokyo for the last 6 years as an equity trader at a financial institution, and as an account manager for an online travel company. At Foster, Jessi hopes to acquire a broader skill set and transition her career into marketing roles in the tech industry. This past summer, Jessi worked at Amazon developing and testing’s emerging online traffic channels. Outside of school, she spends much of her free time staying active and exploring new parts of the city.Jessi is looking forward to participating in the Fritzky Leadership Fellow program to help refine her leadership skills, as well as to give back to the Foster community. She has benefited from the mentorship of the Leadership Fellows program her first year and now wants to contribute by being a mentor to the incoming class.
John CzerniakJohn Czerniak
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Originally from Minnesota, John went to undergrad at USC in Los Angeles. Before coming to Foster, he was a consultant for an economic consulting firm that focused in litigation. He was responsible for leading projects, building financial and econometric models, and communicating complex quantitative analyses to clients. In the summer after his first year at Foster, John was a Summer Associate with McKinsey & Company in Seattle.In his first year at Foster, John was an MBAA 1st-year representative, a Net Impact board member, and active member of several other clubs. In his second year, John is the President of the Foster Consulting Society along with a Leadership Fellow. As a Fritzky Fellow, he will offer advice to incoming students, help ease their transition, and ensure they get everything they want out of their MBA experience on academic, professional, and personal levels. He hopes to grow as a leader and pass on to the next class the inspiration that his Fellow gave to him.
Kate ThorsonKate Thorson
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Born and raised in Minnesota, then Belgium, Kate earned an undergraduate degree with honors from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her professional experience includes over nine years in the nonprofit and global health sectors, most recently spending four years traveling to rural Rwanda as the Program Manager for a global health organization. At Foster, Kate is the President of the Healthcare & Biotech Association, a Global Innovation Fellow with the START Program, and an active member of Net Impact. She is a Board Fellow, a mentor for Women in Business, and an MBA Ambassador. This past summer she interned at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she worked on strategy for one of the global health programs.Kate is honored to serve as a Leadership Fellow and a resource for the incoming class, and looks forward to further developing her own leadership toolkit. Away from school, Kate enjoys traveling to different cultures, running in Seattle with her sister, and cooking inventive pizzas.
Kelsey IngramKelsey Ingram
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Kelsey previously worked for Ernst & Young in San Francisco in the IT Advisory practice. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in IT Management and remains a loyal Irish fan through her involvement with the local alumni club. This summer, she interned with Point B at the Gates Foundation and looks forward to pursuing a post-MBA career in consulting. A Seattle native, she enjoys skiing, biking, and running and spending time with friends and family in the Pacific Northwest.Kelsey serves on the MBAA Executive Council and other club boards, and is excited and honored to be a Leadership Fellow. She looks forward to giving back to the Foster community and serving as a resource to incoming and current students through these roles.
Kira ThorienKira Thorien
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A native of Boise, Idaho, Kira moved to Seattle in 2013 for both work and school purposes. Now a second year full-time MBA candidate, she spent the summer of 2014 in Shepherdsville, Kentucky as an Amazon MBA operations intern. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, Kira worked in international development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, and Results for Development Institute in Washington, DC. Her areas of expertise include supply chain management in low income countries, and financial modeling for immunization and HIV/AIDS programs. Kira received her bachelor of arts from Oberlin College in 2008, where she studied economics and math, and played varsity lacrosse.
Rachel AzaroffRachel Azaroff
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Rachel Azaroff is a second-year MBA student at the Foster School of Business, focusing on Marketing and Entrepreneurship. In addition to her role as a Leadership Fellow, she is a Foster Ambassador, sits on the Board of the Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital Club, and serves a Board Fellow for the Rainier Chamber of Commerce. She is also a Senior Associate for the Alliance of Angels. She has a BA from University of Maryland, College Park in Journalism. Prior to starting at Foster, she worked for seven years in strategic communications and outreach in Washington, D.C., most recently working at Deloitte for over four years.Rachel is excited to be a Fritzky Leadership Fellow to contribute to the Foster community and to continue to develop her own leadership abilities.
Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthy
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Prior to joining Foster, Ryan served as an Army officer where he specialized in joint air missile defense operations, personnel strategy, and operations research analysis. After more than eight years in the military, Ryan decided to head back to his roots in the Pacific Northwest and start a new chapter in his professional career.Ryan is humbled by the opportunity to serve as a Leadership Fellow and hopes to both support the incoming MBA Class and further his leadership abilities. Foster has been a transformative experience for him and he looks to facilitate the same level of change for others in the incoming class. When he’s not at PACCAR, Ryan enjoys the outdoors, Crossfit, cooking, connecting with friends, and spending time with his family. He is also currently serving with the Oregon Army National Guard.
Sasha GourevitchSasha Gourevitch
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Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sasha graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a BA in Political Science. She then worked for a Bay Area vocational training nonprofit, JobTrain, for 4 years and served as their Youth Coordinator. She plans to continue working in the nonprofit sector post MBA. She started her MBA internship in January and worked as an associate intern at Waldron in both their Executive Search and Organization Development teams. Sasha is also co-president of Challenge for Charity.Sasha is thrilled to be selected as a Fritzky Leadership Fellow and is excited to help the first year students throughout the year. She is looking forward to working on her own leadership skills and connecting with the other Fellows.
Scott KnackstedtScott Knackstedt
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Scott is a northwest native, growing up in Olympia, Washington, and attending the University of Portland as a scholar athlete in track and cross country. After graduating with a BS and a BA, he attended the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna as a Fulbright Scholar where he received a graduate diploma in international relations. He later attained a masters degree from the University of Cambridge before returning to the US to work as a consultant in international governmental affairs. Scott arrived at Foster eager to develop not only his business acumen and skill set but also to meet and befriend the many interesting, fun, and kind classmates at the business school and to take advantage of the many incredible opportunities at the University of Washington.As a Fritzky Leadership Fellow, Scott is looking forward to helping and supporting first-year students as they forge their path through the full-time MBA program. He is also interested in furthering his own leadership development and working closely with this year’s cohort of Leadership Fellows. Outside of the classroom Scott continues to enjoy distance running, cycling, and playing musical instruments.
Tony LiuTony Liu
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Tony Liu is from Portland, Oregon but spent most of his life in Seattle, Washington where he attended the University of Washington majoring in Communication. Prior to starting the MBA program at Foster, he worked in software recruiting and managed his family’s Chinese restaurant for 5 ½ years. During the summer, Tony interned at at their headquarters in downtown Seattle where he helped the research team with usability testing and consumer research.Tony is honored and excited to be part of the Fritzky Leadership Fellows and wants to provide the same support that he received during his experience with his leadership fellow last year. He is also looking forward to developing his leadership skills and learning how to equip others to lead. Staying connected with his food industry roots he is excited to be a Foster Foodies board member and enjoys cycling, swimming, snowboarding, and cooking.

Evening MBA transformers: David Zern

David ZernOnce: fraud analyst, T-Mobile
Now: marketing manager, T-Mobile

Tell us about your previous career: Before starting at Foster, I worked my way up through the ranks at T-Mobile, starting in retail and moving to my then position as a risk analyst. The role involved combing through databases to determine who was committing fraud on our network. The role gave me some good experience, but unfortunately did not offer much upside.

What are you currently doing in your role? My current role is a marketing manager supporting base communication at T-Mobile. I ensure that our marketing messages go out correctly, on time and with relevant information. I assist the strategy team on what the best method of communicating with customers is and what can be deemed successful once the campaign has finished.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? Transitioning to my new role was somewhat of an accident. I went with my fiancé to the Foster alumni poker tournament where she happened to be seated at a table with one of my current co-workers, who was an alumnus of the Evening MBA Program. She introduced us and, after talking with him for a bit, he mentioned his team was looking to hire. I was able to leverage what I had learned in my brief time in the program to move into my current role.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? Networking and asking your fellow classmates never hurts when looking for a new role. I stumbled upon my role by accident, but would not have been in that position had it not been for my networking abilities and my fiancé introducing us. If you are interested in a new career, find out who works at the company you are looking to move to or ask around to see if anyone has advice. I’ve been asked on several occasions and have referred several people to T-Mobile now that I’m in a role where I can do that. Networking is key!

Evening MBA transformers: Savitha Swaminathan

Savitha Swaminathan Once: research associate, Seattle BioMed
Now: commercialization associate, Device and Tools Global Program, PATH, Seattle

Tell us about your previous career: Prior to enrolling in the Foster School of Business, I worked at the Center for Infectious Disease Research as a research associate. I managed and conducted research projects on agents of critical infectious diseases such as the influenza virus.

What are you currently doing in your role? I am currently a commercialization associate with the Devices and Tools group at PATH. PATH is a global health nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring transformative health technologies to the developing world. PATH does this through product development, innovation, and effective private sector partnerships. In my current role, I focus on ensuring that effective partnering with the private sector, global access, intellectual property, and market development perspectives are integrated into product development plans. I support strategic product development through analysis, such as market segmentation, economic and stake holder analysis, and develop value propositions to evaluate the commercial viability of the technologies in our portfolio.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? The MBA was key in making a successful transition from research to business strategy. In particular, the internship I did with the Center for Commercialization laid the foundation for a very successful interview process and created an easy transition into my current role. The MBA also created many opportunities to network and meet the right people who were able to guide, mentor, and recommend me to potential employers.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? “Lean in.” While Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg has used this phrase to create a movement of epic proportions to help women catalyze their careers, it can be borrowed to summarize your strategy to make the most of the MBA program. If you are looking to make a career transition, it is likely you will have less experience in the area you want to move into. It is important to position your past experience as relevant to the new role you are seeking and also make the most of the opportunities the MBA program provides to make up for this gap. Actively engaging with MBA Career Management to improve your interview skills, participating in case competitions to expand your exposure to real-world business challenges, and engaging with Foster’s rich alumni network to seek informational interviews are all highly effective strategies to help overcome this lack of direct experience. For evening students life can get very busy juggling full-time work and MBA assignments. Therefore, be strategic and focus on one or two areas to support your professional development through the program.

Evening MBA transformers: Peter Olagunju

Peter Olagunju Once: compliance manager, ZymoGenetics
Now: director global operations, Dendreon

Tell us about your previous career: Prior to starting the Evening MBA Program in 2009, I held the role of compliance manager with a local biotechnology organization, ZymoGenetics. In this role I had responsibility for ensuring that our external partners (manufacturing, transportation, storage and shipping) were in compliance with various regulatory requirements. When I started this role it was as an individual contributor, but I transitioned to managing a small team halfway through the MBA program.

What are you currently doing in your role? In my current role, I have responsibility for the European supply chain which includes contract manufacturers, international couriers and raw material providers.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? Unequivocally, without the Evening MBA Program, I would not have been able to land my current role. The program helped provide leadership, time management and executive skills that not only enabled me to land my current role, but have also allowed me to thrive as a high performer. Additionally, during the recruitment process, the hiring manager mentioned that a strong consideration in my candidacy (compared to other applicants) was the fact that I had completed the Foster MBA Program.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? The number one recommendation I have for all students in the part-time MBA program (and specifically for those looking to make a career transition) is to participate in the UW Business Plan Competition. This is a great opportunity to develop an idea/plan that potentially could allow for the student to explore another discipline of business outside of their current career role.

Evening MBA transformers: Molly Moore

Molly MooreOnce: provider contracting, Regence BlueShield
Now: manager of business development, Cambia Health Solutions

Tell us about your previous career: When I entered the MBA program, I worked for Regence Blue Shield negotiating provider contracts and managing specialty provider networks. I had been in similar roles for Aetna and United Healthcare dating back to 2002.

What are you currently doing in your role? Cambia is the parent company of Regence BlueShield in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah. I am in a special division called Direct Health Solutions (DHS). DHS invests and builds companies that change the way people experience the health care system. We invest in healthcare companies only, in particular companies that create a more economically sustainable and person-focused health system. My role within DHS is to work with our invested companies (right now we have 15) to build the value of our portfolio. I help our companies explore business opportunities with the Regence health plans, other blue plan partners, consumers and employers within our four-state footprint. By leveraging my 17 years of healthcare experience, I am able to help our companies create better go-to-market strategies and identify unique partnership opportunities.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? I have worked in healthcare since 1996 and have seen quite a few evolutions over the years. I wanted to stay in healthcare, but did not want to stay in my current role after I graduated. The two aspects of the Evening MBA Program that most prepared me for my current role were my participation in the UW Business Plan Competition and Lance Young’s entrepreneurial finance class. When my job opportunity came along, I was able to easily keep up with the financial discussions as well as the healthcare context. The Evening MBA Program gave me the skills I needed to feel confident in tackling all the other aspects of the role such as interacting with the C-suite of my company, presenting to large rooms of people, strategic planning and project management.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? The University of Washington Foster School of Business will prepare you for any type of career, which can make narrowing down your next career move hard. In order to narrow the field, I made a list of what aspects I was going to look for in a company, what aspects were important to me and the kind of culture I wanted to work in. This list not only helped guide my job search, but also enabled me to easily articulate why I wanted the role I was applying for and how I would be a great fit for the company.

Evening MBA transformers: James Grandin

James Grandin Once: civil engineering project manager, Bury+Partners
Now: senior program manager,

Tell us about your previous career: Prior to enrolling in the Foster School of Business, I was employed as a civil engineering project manager at a land development consulting company in Austin, Texas. I was primarily responsible for infrastructure design and the preparation of construction drawings for single family, mixed use and commercial developments. I was also the designated representative for client and jurisdictional agency personnel on all applicable projects.

What are you currently doing in your role? I currently work at Amazon in Seattle and am managing the North American launch of the Pick-Up Point Program, which will enable customers to easily choose alternate delivery locations such as retail establishments and shipping destinations for their Amazon orders. This role encompasses many different tasks, including the development of business relationships with multinational corporations, negotiating multi-million dollar contracts and managing carrier (UPS, FedEx, etc.) performance.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? First and foremost, I wouldn’t have this job without the Evening MBA Program. Civil engineering taught me how to be an effective project manager, but I lacked many required skills to succeed in a business oriented environment. My business statistics, leadership development, operations and marketing courses at Foster helped me sharpen my analytical and critical thinking skills. Additionally, the opportunity to network with classmates and industry professionals through various mentoring programs proved to be invaluable.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? Network, venture outside of your comfort zone and make sure you enroll in a variety of elective courses. It is extremely important at this point in your professional career to expose yourself to a variety of ideas and functions of business before choosing your career focus.

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.