Category Archives: Student Life

Foster students win 2012 international marketing case competition

On March 3, 2012, an undergraduate case competition team from the University of Washington Foster School of Business won the Intercollegiate Marketing Competition held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Eight teams were tasked with developing a marketing plan for Zajak Ranch, a non-profit summer camp for disabled children.

Looking to become financially self-sustaining while attracting the next generation of donors and corporate sponsors, the camp had asked students to find ways to increase revenues during the winter months while also signing reoccurring monthly donors in the younger demographic. Teams were given only three hours to deliberate, design a full presentation and practice before immediately giving a 20-minute presentation with 15 minutes of Q&A. Only four teams would then move on to the final round where they would present in front of a panel of judges consisting of marketing professionals, members of the camp’s management, as well as the managing member of the Zajak family.

Foster’s team consisted of Allen Kuceba, Alex Diaz and Caitlin Snaring, all members of the American Marketing Association student organization. Kuceba is a senior with a focus in finance and entrepreneurship, Diaz is a senior focused on marketing and communications and Snaring is a junior focused on marketing and accounting. The three were selected from a pool of applicants from the UW American Marketing Association.

“I am extremely proud of this team. They worked hard practicing case analysis and presentation skills. With only three hours to prepare, they demonstrated the ability to critically analyze a business problem and develop a viable solution,” says faculty advisor Leta Beard, who coached the students.

Foster team wins national minority MBA case competition

An MBA team from the University of Washington Foster School Business and Economic Development Center took first place at the 2012 National Minority MBA Case Competition held at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University.

The team of first-year Evening MBA students, Brent Bauslaugh, Ben Lapekas, Ksenia Karpisheva and Rakesh Saini, beat out teams from 18 other business schools from around the US including University of California Los Angeles, Carnegie Mellon, Indiana University and Boston College. The grand prize for Foster’s Evening MBA students? $7,500. Additionally, Lapekas was recognized as the best presenter and Bauslaugh won first place for best question and answer session.

All 18 competing teams had 20 minutes to provide a solution to a case dealing with strategic choices for third party commercial loan servicing business at Key Bank. “Our students’ ability to handle ambiguity of the case and yet provide firm recommendations backed up with hard data were ultimately what differentiated them from the rest,” says team advisor Geraldine Rodriguez, assistant director at the UW Business and Economic Development Center.

EJ Burke, Key Bank’s head of real estate capital and corporate banking services adds, “The University of Washington team’s presentation represented a thorough understanding of a very complex and difficult case. Their recommended solutions were actionable and thought provoking.”

A team from the UW Business and Economic Development Center has placed in the top three teams nationally for the past four years for this diversity competition.

Each fall, the Business and Economic Development Center hosts a UW Foster School of Business internal Diversity in Business Case Competition in order to select the team of MBA students who represents Foster at the national competition.

Consultant from India builds bridge to tech marketing career

Meet Shekhar Singh, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

Shekhar Singh grew up in India, where he earned a degree in civil engineering but later moved into software and built a career as a consultant with tech giant Infosys. When he set his sights on a new career in marketing, he looked for a U.S. school where he would have freedom to experiment, build a new skill set, and bridge cultural barriers. The first in his family to live outside India, Shekhar found a home at the Foster School of Business, where he has won case competitions, started a club that connects MBA students to leading technology companies, and helped other international MBA students meet the same challenges he faced when he arrived. Along the way, he has made some new friends.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.

MBA Challenge for Charity: game on

Music and mountains. Pursuits that quicken pulses around the Pacific Northwest. So, too, at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Check out this video of Foster’s MBA house band—Death Spiral—laying down a thumping soundtrack to images of the inaugural MBA team charity climb of Mount Rainier in 2011. Both efforts were conceived and driven by students in Foster’s Full-Time and Evening MBA Programs. And both were components of the school’s year-long campaign in the MBA Challenge for Charity (C4C).



C4C is the annual competition among nine west coast business schools to raise the most money and work the most volunteer hours for local service organizations. The Foster School has won the C4C “Golden Briefcase” seven of the past 11 years, raising over $1 million and volunteering more than 15,000 hours for Special Olympics Washington and the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.

Last year’s Rainier push landed 11 MBA mountaineers on the summit of Washington’s highest peak. The climbers also raised $7,000 for C4C charities. The MBA band rocked the C4C competition weekend at Stanford University, part of a growing tradition of sonic boom at the Foster School.

Mountains and music are a go for 2012, too.

This year’s Mount Rainier climb is scheduled for August and training has already begun. Organizer Scott Heinz and first-year MBA Jack Hogin hope to guide as many as 24 MBAs up two different routes. And Death Spiral, led by Nick Wilson (bass) and Mike Warady (drums), is back and amped for another epic concert at Stanford in May (not to mention numerous events in the run-up).

The primary C4C fundraiser is Foster School’s annual MBA Challenge For Charity auction, which takes place on February 25 from 5:30-11 p.m. at the Seattle Sheraton. Mardi Gras is the theme. You get the picture—a good time for a good cause.

MBA transforms economist into business strategist

Meet Natalia Perez, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

Leaving behind a job as a government economist in Washington, D.C., Natalia Perez moved to Seattle with her family and decided to enroll in an MBA program as a way to transition to a new career in business. The Foster School’s supportive, collaborative culture and close connections with Seattle’s vibrant business community have helped with these major life changes. Exposure to guest speakers from the area’s major employers at club meetings gave her insight into the job market. An internship at premier retailer Nordstrom offered a chance to apply what she was learning in the classroom, and brought her career goals into focus. She’s eager to put her experience and her developing skills as a strategist to work after graduation, and sees ample opportunity in Seattle to pursue her new vocation.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.

Asia native finds new home, plans career in Seattle

Meet Joana Tou, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Macao, Joana Tou’s undergraduate studies started in San Francisco and ended at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After starting her career in consulting, she and her husband, who was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, decided to return to the West Coast and landed in Seattle. Looking for a new career where she could build on her previous experience, Joana chose the Full-time MBA Program at the Michael G. Foster School of Business as a way to broaden and deepen her background in business and connect with the thriving local business community. She’s closing in on her goals.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.

MBA candidate plans to do well by doing good

Meet Laura McCurry, Full-time MBA Class of 2012

Seattle native Laura McCurry places a high value on community and collaboration, and found a “perfect fit” for these values at the Foster School of Business. She parlayed an undergraduate degree in business into a five-year stint in Quito, Ecuador, helping fair trade producers improve their business practices and market to customers worldwide. After returning to Seattle, she decided to take her career to the next level by seeking an MBA. At the Foster School, she has found ample opportunities to pursue her passion, whether sharing her experience with new MBA students as a Leadership Fellow, serving on a non-profit board as a Board Fellow, or raising funds and networking with alumni for Challenge for Charity. And Foster’s connections in the business community have given her an opportunity to explore post-MBA employment that will have a positive impact on society as well as the bottom line.

Watch other Full-time MBA Faces of Foster videos.