Category Archives: MBA

Full-time 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 Erin E. Town, Director of Admissions. She also includes some advice for international students.​​

Watch other Full-time MBA application tips videos.

Perfect is the enemy of good

The Evening MBA Program recently hosted its first ever case competition for the second-year Evening MBA students. The competition served as an opportunity for students to apply what they learned in their first-year core classes toward a simulated business case. This year’s case was developed by Sadie Raney, a third-year Evening MBA student. The winning team, comprised of Garin Wedeking, Abhi Thinesh Rathinavelu, Michael Pamphlet, Brad Waidelich and Derek Zahajko, has shared what helped them succeed.

EveMBACaseCompWhat did you learn from the competition?
This felt like a round of “speed-dating” with our new group. It gave us an opportunity in a week’s time to identify team members’ strengths and quickly discover how to best work together. The best trait we share is that none of us needs to be in charge for any reason other than to get the project done. We have quickly learned how to let each other take the reins, as well as to give each other space and time at one’s discretion with the understanding that everyone is overbooked. It’s a fact of grad school.

What made your team successful?
We set early expectations of what we were going to do, and then each executed on our commitments. Those expectations were not equal in work load, but that didn’t matter. When you start keeping score you make room for excuses. To quote a teammate “All (five) of us should be pulling 25%.” The trick is actually doing that.

How could you apply what you learned in the competition to your job?
Since the case intentionally provided little detail, it forced our team to quickly and rationally make assumptions and move forward. We could have chosen to jump down rabbit holes in order to make real-world parallels, but we didn’t think that would create a better product in the end. This parallels the real-world in that sometimes time-sensitive situations or opportunities arise where rapid action is required and time is not available to acquire more data or more data may simply not exist.

Did it teach you to think about business issues in a different way?
Often times we have the inclination to think there is only one right answer. In this case, all three options could have been viable options for the company. It came down to the rationality behind the option and ultimately the ability to execute on the idea within the time frame. Parfait est l’ennemi du bon.

Learn more about the Evening MBA Program.

MBA Strategic Consulting Program equips Foster students for the real world

Genevieve Cohen (MBA 2013) needed experience. An elementary schoolteacher trying to make the considerable jump from education to business, Cohen knew she’d have to prove her mettle to employers, and demonstrate that she could apply her MBA knowledge to real-world challenges.

MBA students at Isernio’s plant
Foster’s Strategic Consulting Program connected a team of first-year MBA students with Frank Isernio of Isernio’s Sausage, shown here at the company’s plant. A rapidly growing business, Isernio’s has become a repeat client. The most recent MBA consulting project focused on a digital marketing strategy for one of the company’s most popular products, a line of chicken sausage rolls.

She found myriad opportunities to do just that at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. Internships with leading companies. Projects featuring live businesses and brands. And the MBA Strategic Consulting Program which, for the past decade, has deployed teams of graduate students to analyze business problems for a variety of successful firms in the region and beyond.

Gordon Neumiller, the program’s director, says that these education-in-action projects provide good value for clients—and essential value for students.

Foster School Dean Jim Jiambalvo agrees.

“The classroom is a great environment for learning theories and frameworks,” says Jiambalvo. “But it’s critical that students know how to apply these theories and frameworks to real-world problems. The MBA Strategic Consulting Program directly addresses this critical need, and ensures that our students can roll up their sleeves and solve the complex, unstructured problems they’ll face on the job.”

Genesis

Ten years ago, Dave Albano (MBA 2004) was an MBA candidate with an English degree who had stumbled into the wireless telecom industry. “I found that I enjoyed solving problems and making businesses run more efficiently,” he says. “I became an internal consultant wherever I worked.”

At Foster, Albano parlayed this passion into an existing MBA student organization called the Business Consulting Network. As president, he worked—along the margins of his academic work—with Neumiller to recruit area businesses with strategic problems to solve, assign student teams, and provide quality control.

He and Neumiller believed that the experiences were so valuable—and time-consuming—that they should be worth class credit. They pitched the idea to school administration. And soon there was a formal class, then a requirement, then an official program of the Foster School.

Today the Full-time MBA Program requires a 10-week Applied Strategy project in the first-year core, and many second-year students and Evening MBAs elect to take on a longer Field Study project through the MBA Strategic Consulting Program.

“These projects are an invaluable counterpart of the academics in that you get actual experience and really get engaged,” says Albano, now a consultant at Accenture who continues to advise Foster teams and has delivered a “Consulting 101” intro to many Applied Strategy classes. “It’s critical to have a quality work experience to point to, especially when you’re a career changer like I was.”

This year’s model

The program’s portfolio of recent clients includes Fortune 500 corporations (Starbucks, Intel, PACCAR, Alaska Airlines), smaller firms (Outdoor Research, Web Turner, OneEnergy Renewables, Isernio’s Sausage), non-profits (Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle Opera), and, increasingly, firms farther from home (Machine Perception Technologies of San Diego, Scharffen Berger Chocolate of Hershey, Pennsylvania).

The type of project ranges from supply chain efficiency to expansion strategy to brand management to database marketing and anything in between.

One of last year’s collaborations was with Saltchuk Resources, a diversified holding company founded by long-time Foster Advisory Board member Mike Garvey.

The challenge? To develop a more robust and integrated Saltchuk corporate brand across its family of 35 distinct companies that are loosely assembled around a theme of transportation and distribution.

“This task was not in our skill set,” admits Saltchuk president Tim Engle (MBA 2002). “So we looked outside for help.”

He found the team of Foster Evening MBA Students—Etta Mends, Tyler Edgar, and Rose Tucker—was more than up to the task. They worked closely with the company’s many stakeholders to produce a set of guidelines, both internal and external, designed to make Saltchuk a stronger and more cohesive company.

Mends, who works full-time in finance at Boeing, found the deep dive into the unfamiliar waters of branding and organizational structure to be exhilarating. “Not only did this project offer me a completely different perspective on business,” she says, “it also gave me a glimpse into a smaller company that moves so quickly to adapt and evolve.”

The client was more than satisfied. “We got a heck of a deal,” says Engle. “In terms of return on investment, it’s tenfold, easily. Their work will guide our thinking for a long time to come.”

Repeat business

The largest and most consistent client of the Field Study Program is Microsoft, which generated five different projects this past year.

One of the longest running collaborations is with Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing venture. Under the guidance of Suresh Sathyamurthy (MBA 2007), group product marketing manager at Windows Azure (who recently joined EMC), Foster MBAs have helped scale the business, identify market opportunities, understand the partner ecosystem, and analyze strategy over the past few years.

“The quality of work has been extremely good,” says Sathyamurthy, who was introduced to Microsoft while doing a student consulting project defining value bundles for the Xbox console. “The Foster students collaborate well and work with the end outcome in mind. This collaboration stands out in every presentation and in every meeting.”

Takeaways

At the end of the day, standing out is the name of the game for every MBA looking to leverage rich experiences into interesting and impactful work.

“We always tell students that the way to turn their project into a good job is to do a good job on the project,” says Neumiller. “It may not land you a job with your client company, but it will help you get a job.”

Mends already has a good job, and really came to the Foster School to remain competitive. But she says that challenging experiences like the Saltchuk project have opened her world. “My ambitions of what I want to do are growing as I grow with the program,” she says.

For Cohen, the former schoolteacher, the MBA Strategic Consulting Program was an essential facet of her management education. Working with different combinations of classmates, she delivered a business development plan for Ecologists Without Borders, a supply chain solution for Alaska Airlines and an international expansion analysis for Starbucks, as well as a dynamite brand audit for Tequila Partida.

“Understanding the different types of clients, different personalities, different challenges that each consulting project brings were a critical piece of my education,” Cohen says.

Her first job after graduation from Foster? Consulting.

Get started early on career management

Guest post by Naomi Sanchez, EdD, CMC, Assistant Dean, MBA Career Management

MBA Career Day at StarbucksEmployers are meeting with incoming MBA students before classes start and internship recruiting has been pushed back into early fall. Year-round networking is required for students in today’s job market. Why? Competition for companies to find the best and brightest is fierce. MBA students are entering a competitive job market and preparation for the interview season starts early. At Foster, we offered several summer workshops on professional brand development, interviewing skills and resume preparation. We also held a special summer orientation for incoming international students to prepare them for recruiting. MBA students will need to have both hard and soft skills to be successful in today’s job market. They must be able to articulate who they are, what they have to offer and what they want to accomplish in their career. Though it may seem simple, considerable preparation for this conversation is required. We teach the three Cs to students: Competence, Confidence and Connections. They need to be strong in all three to find the next step in their career. And they must start building and developing themselves for this challenging job market as soon as they arrive. In light of this competitive landscape, here are my three pieces of advice for the MBA Class of 2015:

  1. Know your professional brand
  2. Have the drive to make things happen
  3. Write thank you notes regularly

Thank you to Starbucks for hosting Career Day for the MBA class of 2015 on Friday, September 13.

Meet the 2013-2014 Fritzky Leadership Fellows

Courtney Biggs
Courtney Biggs
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Courtney Biggs is a second-year MBA student at the Foster School of Business, focusing on Marketing and Finance. In addition to her role as a Leadership Fellow, she is a Peer Advisor, sits on the Board of the Diversity in Business Club, and serves a Board Fellow for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest. She has a BA from Vassar College in Art History and Economics, and an MA in Art History from the University of Southern California. Prior to starting at Foster, she worked at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth.Courtney chose to participate in the Fritzky Leadership Fellows program because she found her Leadership Fellow to be a tremendously helpful resource during her first year of the MBA program, and would like to provide the same sort of help and guidance to incoming first year students this year. She is enthusiastic about providing her peers with opportunities to develop their leadership abilities, as well as utilizing the Fritzky Leadership Fellows program as an opportunity to nurture and grow her own leadership development.
Evan Daikoku
Evan Daikoku

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Originally from Seattle, Evan attended Claremont McKenna College, where he majored in organizational psychology and government. Prior to starting the MBA program at Foster, he worked for five years in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice in San Francisco and Seattle. This summer, Evan completed his internship at Nordstrom, as a member of the Corporate Strategy team leading multiple growth and innovation centered initiatives – including international expansion, capital budgeting, and customer service experience.He is honored to be a Leadership Fellow and is excited to serve as a resource for first year students and help develop their own leadership skills.
Joel Duck
Joel Duck
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Prior to enrolling in the Foster MBA program, Joel Duck received his Industrial Engineering degree in 2002 from Texas Tech University and moved to Seattle to begin his new life in the great Pacific Northwest.  He spent two years working in the WA district office for UPS in their management training program in Operations Excellence and as the Seattle Hub Industrial Engineer.  More recently, he spent 7 years working for Swagelok as a Key Account Manager, developing new business relationships with a variety of clients including Boeing, Puget Sound Energy, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and World CNG.  After graduating from the Foster MBA program he plans to pursue a career in Marketing and Consulting.Joel is excited and honored to be a part of the Fritzky Leadership Fellows and hopes to provide the same level of support he received from his fellows as a first year student.  He lives in West Seattle with his wife Collette and two clownish English bull terriers.  He enjoys playing guitar, Seahawk & Husky football, camping, grilling, aquariums, games of all sorts, and hosting great parties.
Luke Goodrich
Luke Goodrich
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Before returning to school, Luke was a Customer Strategy Consultant in the technology industry with Accenture Management Consulting. Luke also and managed multichannel marketing campaigns for an online retailer, and deployed twice to Iraq, where he was an infantry team leader in the Army. At Foster, Luke is focusing on marketing and entrepreneurship. During his internship, he determined the ideal market, and developed a commercialization plan, for an early-stage medical diagnostic technology. He is excited to be a Leadership Fellow to contribute to the Foster community, and to continue to develop his own leadership abilities.
Liza Green
Liza Green
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A native of Virginia, Liza lived in Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon before relocating to Seattle for business school. Her professional experience spans various industries, from restaurants to biotechnology and education. She is most passionate about the food industry, and spent her summer interning in brand management at Starbucks. In her second year at Foster she is a Leadership Fellow and president of Foster Foodies, among other things.She looks forward to developing her leadership skills in both of these roles, and is excited to serve as a resource for the incoming class at Foster!
Zach Gretch
Zach Gretch
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Prior to joining the Foster MBA Program, Zach worked as a consultant for PwC’s Advisory Services practice. Focused in the technology sector, he led and supported a broad range of business initiatives in areas such as risk management, market research, mergers and acquisitions, and process improvement. While at Foster, Zach is focused on building his skill set in the areas of marketing and strategy. He completed his summer internship with a sales strategy team at Philips Healthcare.Zach views the Fritzky Leadership Fellows program as a special opportunity to work on developing both himself and others. His goals for the program include: expanding his leadership knowledge through studying the art and learning from others, building personal leadership skills and experience through interaction with his first year teams and peers, and supporting growth by recognizing and encouraging leadership qualities and behaviors in others.Away from business school, Zach invests his time primarily in sports, exercise, and family. He and his wife excitedly await the birth of their first child, due in February of 2014.
Dennis Grubbs
Dennis GrubbsLinkedIn Icon
Dennis Grubbs is a lifelong Northwest resident and also earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of Washington.  Prior to coming back to Foster, Dennis worked in mortgage lending and then digital marketing at Microsoft.  In addition to taking on leadership roles in a number of clubs at Foster, Dennis is extremely honored to have been selected to take part in the Fritzky Leadership Fellows Program.He feels it will be a great opportunity to develop his leadership skills while also lending support to first-year students; something he appreciated having when he was a first year.  He is looking forward to this huge personal growth opportunity.
Kyle Hiatt
Kyle HiattLinkedIn Icon
Kyle Hiatt is a former Army Officer who is focusing strategy and finance at Foster. He majored in international relations at Tufts University, and studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. Kyle grew up in Rhode Island, but has spent time living all over the United States throughout his career in the Army, including Georgia, Kentucky, Arizona, Southern California, and Washington.  Kyle decided to stay in Washington because it is the place where he sweats the least.Kyle decided to get his MBA to facilitate his transition from a career in the military to a career in business.  At Foster, he is on the executive boards of the Operations Club, Consulting Society, and the Sports Business Club.  This past summer Kyle interned at Deloitte, consulting on a supply chain project at Wal-Mart Headquarters in Arkansas.  He hopes to be in a management position one day, where he can help his employees feel fulfilled and valued as members of a team. Kyle sees the Leadership Fellows program as the perfect opportunity to test his abilities to work with and mentor groups of individuals striving toward collective success.When he is not hanging out in Paccar Hall, Kyle enjoys spending time with his dogs, watching and playing sports, running, hiking, and exploring the city.
Alyssa Hochman
Alyssa HochmanLinkedIn Icon
Prior to attending Foster, Alyssa spent close to seven years working as a Project Manager/Implementation Consultant at Epic, a healthcare software company based in Verona, Wisconsin.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and was a 4-year varsity member of the Women’s Swim Team.  Alyssa is passionate about improving health-care delivery and is interested in the intersection between clinical care and technology.As a Fritzky Leadership Fellow, Alyssa endeavors to help and support first-year students as they navigate the MBA program. She is also interested in furthering her own leadership development and working with this year’s cohort of Leadership Fellows.
Andrew Kepley
Andrew KepleyLinkedIn Icon
Andrew comes to the Foster School of Business from his hometown of Washington DC. After graduating from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Andrew worked for Deloitte Consulting. At Foster, Andrew is focused on opportunities that build upon the skills he developed as a consultant while furthering his interests of marketing, strategic planning, and leadership.Andrew spent his summer interning for Brooks Running where he focused on the organization’s culture as the path to innovation. As a Leadership Fellow, Andrew is excited to further his leadership abilities while having the chance to better connect with first year students.
Cecily Northup
Cecily NorthupLinkedIn Icon
Cici is a second-year MBA student at the Foster School of Business. Prior to attending Foster, Cici worked as a senior analyst for a market research and consulting firm in Portland, Oregon where she led custom, mixed-method, proprietary research projects for Fortune 500 healthcare and technology companies. She is hoping to pursue a career in marketing, strategy and/or business development following graduation. Cici holds a BA in psychology from Columbia University and enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and skiing.
Carlton Wilson
Carlton WilsonLinkedIn Icon
Before moving to Seattle in 2010, Carlton worked at an independent music label in his hometown of Washington, DC. He traveled the world as a tour manager, then became the COO of the label’s own music venue. After moving to Seattle, Carlton became a financial advisor primarily working with middle-income families.Carlton is concurrently pursing dual masters in Business and Health Care Administration, with a goal of working at a non-profit health care provider.  Over the summer he interned at Virginia Mason Medical Center, where he helped the Graduate Medical Education department prepare for new regulations in the training of resident physicians.As a Leadership Fellow, Carlton is looking forward to helping guide the incoming class through the fun and challenging process of growth here at Foster.  Additionally, Carlton is a member of the Honor Council, MBAA VP of Academic Affairs, as well as a board member of several student groups.  Trying to be a good Seattleite, Carlton spends his free time sailing, cycling, and running.

 

Learn more about the Leadership Fellows program here.