Thinking about earning an MBA? When you’re ready to take the next step, Sarah Eytinge, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, describes the many ways you can engage with staff and students to learn more about the Evening MBA Program.
“A key part of leading is deciding. Deciding with imperfect data. Deciding when there isn’t always a path that’s clear.”
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene says she came to this particularly astute conclusion while working as a youth football referee. Like her positions at Microsoft and Drugstore.com (she served as vice-president) it provided her with two essential lessons; 1) the importance of decision making when there are still unknowns and 2) a leader must always provide a vision and a path forward. Further qualifying this belief, the congresswoman stated, “With any organization, people are most effective when they have that vision going forward and they know where they’re heading and they know why they’re heading in that direction.”
A Foster MBA Alum, Congresswoman DelBene says she was inspired to run for Congress during her time at Global Partnerships, a micro-finance non-profit that provides loans to small business owners in Latin America and the Caribbean. After her first run for Congress in 2010 (in which she was unsuccessful) she was appointed by then governor Christine Gregoire to serve as the Director of Washington state’s Department of Treasury. In 2012, she successfully ran for a congressional seat in the newly drawn 1st district. Sitting on the House Judiciary and House Agriculture Committees, DelBene now deals with issues such as copyright laws, biotechnology and more.
Using terminology such as ROI (return on investment), the congresswoman routinely uses her business experience when approaching policy-making. Pointing to the seemingly unending federal budget debate, DelBene believes that too many of her colleagues are plagued by short-term thinking. She argues that Congress should approach budgeting concerns like successful CEOS, focusing on investment and long-term strategy. She points to the indelible benefits and returns from federal programs that invest in early learning, unemployment insurance, research and infrastructure as examples.
During her time at the podium, the congresswoman also stressed the importance of being good stewards of policy and citizen engagement, urging audience members to work in conjunction with business and community leaders to pressure Congress in to action.
Watch some highlights below:
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene was one of UW Foster School of Business Dean Jim Jiambalvo’s guest speakers at the monthly Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series, which include notable leaders in an array of industries from greater Seattle and around the country.
The Foster Evening MBA Program has two deadlines each year for applying for admission, one in January and one in April. Which deadline should you shoot for? It depends. The most important thing is not to rush. Make sure you’re ready to submit your best application, advises Erin Town, Director of MBA Admissions.
On Evaluation Day, applicants who are being considered for admission to the Evening MBA Program are invited to participate in group interviews. These interviews help the admissions staff assess your ability to present, to work on a team, and to lead. Tim Hossain, Director of Evening MBA Student Affairs, gives an overview.
The admissions interview is the final step in the process of applying to the Technology Management MBA Program. Program Director Tracy Gojdics describes the interview as a conversation with a member of the admissions team and advises applicants to prepare for it as if it were a job interview.
Three Foster Executive MBA alumni and one current student, all of whom are CEOs at mid-career, shared their experiences on the challenges and rewards of leadership with an attentive audience of students, prospective students and alumni on January 29.
The four came to their leadership roles in different ways. Kevin Conroy (EMBA 2004), president and founder of Blue Rooster, has been self-employed since 1990 and has started several companies. René Ancinas (EMBA 2009), president and CEO at Port Blakely Companies, and Christy Bermensolo (EMBA 2015), CEO at Engineered Software, Inc., assumed leadership of family-owned companies fairly recently–Christy just last year. Vetri Vellore (EMBA 2006), CEO and co-founder at Chronus Corporation, started his company in 2007 after a successful 14-year career at Microsoft.
René and Christy found getting comfortable in the leadership role especially challenging. Both said the advice and guidance they received from mentors inside and outside their organizations, including EMBA classmates, had been tremendously helpful. They both quickly realized their responsibilities required the ability to manage change. For René, the challenge was growth–unusual for a family business, he said. For Christy, it was the need to adopt a style of management different from her parents’ intensely hands-on approach.
All the panelists said finding mentors who offer sound advice and counsel was a key priority, no matter how long they had been in the lead. Kevin spoke about his recent experience recruiting a board of directors, and how much he had learned in the process of preparing to take his business to the next level. René looked to his board, experienced staff members and colleagues in the Young Presidents Organization. Velore sought out executives who he considered 3-5 years ahead of him in their development.
Christy offered some insight into the reason all these leaders had chosen to enroll in Foster’s Executive MBA Program. Preparing to assume her new role, Christy–an engineer by training and analytical by nature–developed a spreadsheet listing expertise that she figured she would need in order to handle the CEO job effectively. She quickly realized her list closely matched the curriculum of the Executive MBA Program. That made one of her first big decisions an easy one.
When applying for admission to the Technology Management MBA Program, you will need to upload unofficial copies of your academic transcripts and other documentation for review. Official copies will be required only if you are admitted to the program, says Ally Wewers, Admissions and Recruiting Coordinator. She describes the process, and explains how applicants whose documents are in a language other than English can get them translated.
The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship’s Jones + Foster Accelerator is a TechStars-like program that helps student-led startups get off the ground.
This year, five teams completed the six-month accelerator program, identifying and meeting milestones with the guidance of top entrepreneurs, lawyers and investors from Seattle’s entrepreneurial community. From July 2013 to February 2014 they worked to build their teams, develop their services or technologies, get their products to market, and raise early-stage funding.
On February 4, the five teams made final presentations to a panel of judges and were awarded up to $25,000 in follow-on funding to pursue their next set of milestones.
- PolyDrop manufactures additives that transform regular coatings (think paint) into conductive coatings that dissipate static electricity and prevent interference caused by electric current flow. PolyDrop has been awarded a Commercialization Gap Fund grant of $50,000 and a National Science Foundation STTR grant of $225,000, providing the funds necessary for 2014 operations and develop a prototype proving the viability of their product.
- Pure Blue Technologies, a water treatment technology company that provides visible light photo disinfection and desalination technology, is currently finalizing a license with the UW Center for Commercialization. The company has negotiated lab space with Ondine biomedical and has a term sheet for up to $1.5 million in equity funding, which will give them 18 months of runway to cover additional research and development and get them to the pilot stage.
- Z Girls educates female athletes ages 11-14 on the mental and emotional skills important in sports and life. The company has received a $100,000 convertible note, raised $50,000 to provide scholarships for girls who demonstrate need, and hired 27 program leaders (all college or pro-level female athletes). In the last six months 182 girls have gone through Z Girls’ Seattle-based programs. (Check out Z Girls’ promotional videos on their website!)
- StudentRND runs programs aimed at educating students (middle-school through college) about programming and engineering. The nonprofit has created an advisory board, raised over $135,000 in sponsorships, and put together an operations plan that includes hosting 20 Code Days in Spring 2014.
- LuckySteps, a wellness program for companies and their employees, has raised $30,000 in the past six months. The company is working with a UW Human Centered Design and Engineering group on a usability study and has run beta tests with four prospective clients in order to prove its business model and pricing structure. Lucky Steps plans to wow the judges in this year’s UW Business Plan Competition.
As a Foster MBA student, getting a job and achieving financial independence is usually expected and the path to find a job is relatively clear. But in parts of rural India where education access may be limited and women are discouraged from working outside the home, financial independence is difficult to obtain and the jobs that are available are often insecure. The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a 1.5 million member trade union for poor self-employed women, is working to change that by helping to organize stable jobs and showing the benefits employment for women can provide. Every year since 2011, the MBA Global Consulting Project has sent twenty of Foster’s MBA students to the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan in India to partner with SEWA, study the group’s projects and apply their MBA business analysis to provide recommendations.
SEWA’s partners in the MBA Global Consulting Project get to see these benefits first-hand in their intense ten day visit to the region to understand the issues, meet with the grassroots entrepreneurs that make up SEWA and find projects that can improve lives. Gathering research about projects in an organization that helps local people work for themselves goes beyond recording facts. Hearing about the business means hearing the stories of women who have grown into leaders, young people who gain better education because of their parents’ new-found work, and local businesses that are truly family affairs. For the MBA students, the trip is as productive as it is inspiring.
Examples of projects include:
- Rudiben (RUDI): It’s similar to Avon, but instead of selling cosmetics, the women sell spices, sugar and grains. They can often make more than double what they would otherwise earn doing embroidery or agricultural work. Read more here and here.
- Jyoti: It provides solar electricity for schools, solar lanterns for homes, and hand pumps in remote villages with limited access to electricity and clean water. It is funded by the Coca-Cola India Foundation. The hand pumps save time and improve the health of the family by giving them reliable access to clean water. The solar electricity and lanterns improve the quality of life by powering fans during hot weather and lights during darker times of year. Read more.
- Shantipath Peace Centers: The centers are designed to help women find jobs within their community. Read more.
- Hariyali: It provides solar power or biomass gasification technology which is used to supply small rural villages with electricity. Read more.
Upon returning to Foster for winter quarter, students work with mentors, SEWA managers and the research they gathered in India to provide recommendations on important issues the union’s projects face, from Castor oil supply problems to how to measure the impact of solar lanterns in people’s lives. In a March video conference, the students present their recommendations to SEWA for feedback and implementation. Since SEWA’s most dedicated investors are the people in the communities it works with, leveraging the money the organization has is vital.
To read first-hand accounts from MBAs who traveled to India and worked on this project, check out the MBA Global Consulting Project blog. This project is led by Professor Cate Goethals.
Achieving a good score on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is a concern for applicants to the Technology Management MBA Program. Tracy Gojdics, TMMBA Program Director, stresses that the GMAT score is just one of several factors considered in admission decisions, and offers recommendations on preparing for the test.