For the experienced professionals who graduate from Foster’s Executive MBA Program, career challenges come in many shapes and sizes. For one professional, the smooth climb up a career ladder was suddenly blocked. For another, finding a suitable match for specialized background and skills proved unexpectedly difficult. A third reached the end of one career path and had to find her way to another. A fourth moved halfway around the world and had to start over in a city with an unfamiliar culture where she had few connections in the business community. Each of these four EMBA alumni faced one of these challenges. Each triumphed over adversity with new knowledge and skills, a new network of contacts and assistance from the EMBA program’s career coach. Here are their stories.
A team of Foster students recently traveled to Singapore for an MBA Strategic Consulting Project. The following is an account by Kyle Sullivan (MBA 2014) of his experiences there and observations of the city-state.
It’s cold and rainy in Seattle; typical winter conditions. It’s hard to imagine I was enjoying 85-degree weather just a few weeks ago in Singapore.
Despite having lived in Asia for an extended period, I had never visited Singapore before. My friends often described it as uneventful, that it had none of the dynamism of China or Hong Kong; “Asia lite,” they would call it. I could not disagree more.
From the moment we landed, I noticed a sense of significance about the place. Driving westward into town along Singapore’s East Coast Parkway (ECP), parallel to the waterfront, it is all but impossible to ignore the armada of container ships lingering in the Singapore Strait. A few miles down the road, the view of the ships becomes obscured by an army of quay cranes towering above the Port of Singapore, Asia’s second largest port. Adjacent to the port, gleaming skyscrapers bearing the names Standard Chartered, HSBC, and Microsoft press up against Singapore’s Marina Bay. Surrounded by so much commercial activity, it feels as if you are in the center of the world.
I traveled to Singapore with a team of three classmates—Noah, Shalini, and Lisa—to work on a project for a Washington-state manufacturing company. The company had been exploring the possibility of opening a warehouse in Singapore in order to be closer to its customers in Asia Pacific. Our task was three-fold: gather information about the local market for the company’s products, assess the local real estate market, and make connections with headhunters. The project’s intent was to inform the client company about the most appropriate way to set up an operation in Singapore.
It was a busy ten days for us, packed with meetings, dinners, and networking events. One of the key takeaways from our meetings with various business partners was that there are very clear trade-offs for conducting business in Singapore. For example, business registration is conducted online and takes a matter of hours (whereas in China it can take more than six months), laws and regulations are evenly enforced, and the corporate income tax rate is a flat 17 percent. The downside is that the average price for a warehouse is roughly triple the price in Seattle, and annual wage increases are some of the highest in Asia Pacific.
One of the most interesting meetings was with a company called Mapletree, which is one of Singapore’s largest industrial property management firms. We met with a man named James, who heads up marketing for Mapletree’s industrial property division, to hear his expertise on Singapore’s industrial property market and to understand his company’s portfolio of warehouse properties. As we were wrapping up the conversation, out of curiosity I asked James for his opinion about what country in Asia Pacific will be the next major driver of growth for industrial property sales. He paused for a moment, and grinned. Waiting in suspense, as if he was about to divulge a closely guarded secret, he simply replied, “Indonesia.”
Learn more about the MBA Strategic Consulting Program at the Foster School.
The Technology Management MBA Program is designed for working professionals, so your work experience is an important factor in evaluating your application for admission. Tracy Gojdics, TMMBA Program Director, has recommendations for preparing a résumé to submit with your application.
Executive MBA students typically think about getting an MBA for months, sometimes years, prior to applying for admission to a program. Most carefully weigh the financial investment, the time commitment, and other opportunity costs against the ROI of personal and professional growth offered by the EMBA experience. We asked three Foster EMBA students to explain how they decided to make a leap forward in their careers.
If you’re planning to apply to the Technology Management MBA Program, take advantage of opportunities to learn more about the program and the application process, advises Ally Wewers, Admissions and Recruiting Coordinator. These include one-on-one meetings with admissions staff, application workshops, the TMMBA Talk blog and talking with alumni and students.
Over 300 University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students studied or interned abroad last year. These photos and short descriptions are a small taste of the transformative educational experiences these students have each year. The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos in two categories:
- Foster Abroad: Photo that inspires others to study abroad or makes a statement about the student experience abroad
- My Global Lens: Views uniquely accessible to students living abroad – social issues, cultural interactions, landscapes, etc.
Namaste: What I didn’t expect was that by the end of my visit, India would have me in her grip, refuse to let go, and in exchange for my experience, instill a drive in me that would demand a call to action.
Experience abroad: What an experience. You expect to be challenged, but you don’t expect to be awakened.
A Dream Come True: This moment was surreal because ever since high school my dream was to travel to Brazil, but I didn’t think it was possible because no one in my family or community had ever done so. Despite my circumstances I heavily pursued my dream and was accepted in the Brazil program, received scholarships to pay for it, and was the first in my family to study abroad and now I am a living proof that dreams really do come true, but you can’t be afraid to pursue them.
Experience abroad: My Study Abroad Experience in Brazil was life changing. During the trip my perspective was changed. I saw how essential it was for the Brazilian to learn other languages to and know about global news, while I just knew English and a little Spanish. It made me value different languages and cultures more. Meeting with Brazilian students was a great experience and cultural exchange – even though we were from different parts of the world, we could still relate to each other and have fun. Overall, I was inspired by this trip and mind blown.
Convergence: Argentina struggles to reconcile their “dirty” past of military dictatorship with the hopeful future the election of Pope Francisco brings to the country. Taken March 24, 2013, the day of national remembrance of the “disappeared persons”, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Experience abroad: Living and studying in Argentina gave me an unparalleled perspective of what it is like to live with an unstable government and economy. Populism is still alive and well in Argentina, well after the fall of many other Latin American military dictatorships. I spoke with and befriended many young people who see a different future for their country–which now seems possible with the election of the first ever South American (specifically, Argentine) pope. The convergence of Argentina’s violent and unstable recent history with the new movement towards democracy and change created a dynamic and complicated environment in which to live and observe.
2nd Place My Global Lens: Ashley Bozeman, Undergraduate; Leon, Spain
Las Medulas: An unexpected gold mine in Northern Spain.
Experience abroad: I had a wonderful experience abroad with my 12 amigas from UW, our loving and caring host families, and awesome Spanish teachers at the UW Leon Center in Leon, Spain. These were some of the most rewarding and fun three months of my college career and I would encourage anyone and everyone to study abroad during their time at the UW.
As part of the application process, you’ll need to submit letters of recommendation. Who should you ask to write the letters? How do you ensure that recommendations reflect your capabilities and motive for pursuing an MBA? Andy Chen, Assistant Director of MBA Admissions, has some tips for applicants.
Applicants from outside the U.S. face some special challenges, but there are plenty of resources available to help them, according to Megan Lewis, Associate Director of MBA Admissions. In choosing business schools to apply to, she advises going beyond the rankings to find schools that best fit your personal background and goals.
Guest post by Robert Mercer-Nairne (MBA 1971 and PhD 1989)
Dr. Mercer-Nairne actively seeks “to define how human organization forms and evolves as an expression of evolution as a whole.” His work can be found in novels like The Letter Writer, set in Bellevue, WA, to more recently in regular contributions to the Huffington Post. Mercer-Nairne currently resides back home in Scotland where he continues to grow beyond his original focus on organization theory.
Probably the greatest challenge facing the developed world is growth. This is not least because we are unclear what the word means. We have various statistical definitions, such as the augmentation of our gross domestic product—essentially the level of our economic interactions with one another—but our gut instincts tell us that such measures may not address the quality of growth. One example of that is our increasing awareness that the lifestyles we enjoy today may be adversely affecting what our environment will be tomorrow. The post-war notion that we can look forward to a better future for ourselves and our children has become decidedly tarnished.
Probably the greatest challenge facing the academic profession right now is how to escape from its own departmental rigidities so that the challenges facing the human world can be looked at afresh. Are these problems connected? I think so. The expression Breaking the Mould refers to doing something differently, after it has been done in the same way for a long time. In the scientific world, the physicist Thomas Kuhn called these mould-breakings ‘paradigm shifts’. Because of their fundamental nature, they inevitably upset a lot of careers laboriously built upon the old way of seeing things. Consequently their heralds, like the three kings, are invariably dismissed as being weirdoes, troublemakers or just plain delusional.
In most walks of life, the line between maverick and idiot is narrow. Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff is a buffoon whose comic utterances often embody a wisdom which would be unpalatable to the status quo without humor. In his short story The Emperor’s New Clothes, Hans Christian Anderson uses the innocence of a child to puncture the crowd’s acceptance of the emperor’s sartorial magnificence (two swindlers make him an ‘invisible suit’ that can be ‘seen’ only by the worthy and naturally his sycophantic subjects see it even though there is nothing there). Philosophers occasionally debate whether the sane are insane and the insane sane. And even the scientific quest for objective reality can be subverted by the context within which a scientific question is phrased.
My own area of interest – the nature of structure in the evolutionary process—spans every discipline imaginable qualifying me for the accolade insane idiot, although I would prefer maverick. What I am fairly certain of, however, is that while we need the mould—without structure we have nothing – we must pay far more attention than we do to the process whereby moulds are broken and new moulds are formed. And unless you believe in a deterministic universe (and I certainly don’t) space must be left for the creative impulse to work—in politics, in business, in academe.
In the twentieth century we allowed ourselves to be led seriously astray by the false assumption that there was such a thing as inevitable social progress which overrode any moral notion of individual right or wrong. Structure always and everywhere is a function of context. In the conscious, human world, that context is shaped by our values. Start there and growth suddenly becomes limitless and sacred cows (or sacred moulds) less sacred.