Collaboration and Hands-on Learning: Q&A with Marshelle Slayton, MBA 2019

Marshelle SlaytonWhy did you choose the Full-time MBA program at the UW Foster School of Business?

The main reason I chose Foster is the diverse and impactful people students work with and learn from in and out of the program. Foster is known for their collaborative and hands on approach to learning and experiencing business. As a hands-on learner and collaborator, the structure of classes, group work, and the strong Foster Alumni Network drew me to the program. It is this collection of people that I have gained the most from during my time here.

Student Experience

Are you a member of any student organizations?

At Foster you are missing out on a major part of the MBA growth experience if you don’t participate in any student organizations. While determining if Foster was a good fit for me, I was given the advice to make the most out of the short two years by getting involved in leadership roles and exploring. I took this advice to heart and joined a bunch of clubs early on and became a first-year representative for the Foster Consulting Society as well as the Career Management (a student body leadership role). Second year I decided to try my hand at a larger role and was elected the MBAA Class President. The combination of participating in helping plan club events, being a formal MBAA leader, and supporting my classmates in their leadership roles, has truly altered my MBA experience. I have learned how to excite my peers to make changes or get behind a decision, met C-suite professionals at club events, and practice prioritization (in an MBA you can’t go to three events at one time). Overall, becoming involved in clubs and the MBAA has pushed me to be a better leader and increased my connections to the Foster and Seattle community.

Curriculum

What class has been the most useful or interesting to you?

Women at the Top with Professor Cate Goethals. This class broke my own personal glass ceiling. Women at the Top is a class that brings C-suite Women from the Seattle area into a small and safe classroom setting. Cate asks these women to share their personal and professional story from the age of 10 on. This class helped me realize my own potential to achieve high ranked roles in companies and that I can do so while “balancing” the rest of my life. The group discussion and Q&A with speakers provided life-changing insight into what it takes to achieve such positions in today’s business world and that I too can and will become a “Women at the Top”.

Besides your internship, have you participated in any experiential learning opportunities?

Outside of my internship, I have taken advantage of four different experiential learning opportunities. The first was the required Applied Strategy Project Winter Quarter where I was a member of a five-person team that helped an Australian Treasury Management Software company analyze the competitive landscape of the US market and determine if they should attempt to enter. Second, I participated in the Net Impact’s Service Corps where I was on a four-person team and we volunteered our time to help a non-profit, the YMCA Accelerator, determine a strategy and presented a deck to gain increased YMCA membership involvement and donations. Third, I participated in an Operations Case Competition at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburg PA with a team of students of diverse cultural, nationality, and industry experience. Last, I am working with my classmate Tami Geiger on a side project with a Cybersecurity Startup called Rubica to analyze how different demographic factors impact a person’s cybersecurity knowledge, online behaviors, and potential for attack. While I don’t have time to go into detail here, what I gained from these opportunities was how to apply what I learned in the classroom to the business world. As a hands-on learner, these experiences (only a few of what can be tried at Foster) were crucial to my development and a businesswomen.

Faculty

Is there a particular faculty member who stands out in your mind as being really exceptional?

Crystal Farh was my professor for Leading Teams and Organizations (LTO). Crystal’s passion and energy for improving student’s management skills is inspiring and made for a fantastic learning experience. Her class taught the important of collaboration, recognizing/adapting to cultural and personality differences, and how to give co-workers/employees a voice. Crystal is admired by many students at Foster and I can’t wait to take her for another management class before graduating.

Career Impact

Are you planning on changing industries or job functions?

Pre MBA, I worked in Paper Mill starting as a Process Engineer and working my way up to a Regional Process Improvement Leader where I helped implement Lean Manufacturing at different mills across the US. Entering the MBA Program, I knew that I loved operations but had no experience with any other facets of business. I was excited to gain exposure to different topics to see what other passions I might find. In school I found that I liked a variety of subjects including finance, marketing, management, and more complex operations classes. I purposefully enrolled in classes across different subjects to gain exposure and increase my general business knowledge. I will continue this learning in the Management Consulting field as an Associate with McKinsey and Company in their Seattle office. The classes, interview prep with Career Management and my fellow students, and clubs like Foster Consulting Society helped build my knowledge and prepare me to land my job offer. Without an MBA I would never have been given such an opportunity!

Work / Life / School Balance

Describe your busiest day of the week

Currently, Tuesdays are my busiest days of the week which is surprising given that I am only attending two classes. In order to stay healthy and active I meal prep most meals on Sundays and sneak in workouts whenever possible. Even a quick 25-minute run or gym session is worth it to help me focused and energized. My morning starts at about 6 AM when I get up as my husband leaves for work. I either sneak in a quick workout at 7 AM or head to campus to do interview prep with a first-year student/get caught up on emails and school work. At 9 AM I meet up with Tami Geiger (a classmate) to work from 9-12:30 on our independent study. At 12:30 most Tuesdays I help lead lunch meetings with the elected MBAA Vice Presidents and Club Presidents to check in on how the program is running and work on improvement ideas. After lunch I spend a couple hours working with my classmates on team projects until 3:30 PM when I attend the Macro Economics class that is in our core curriculum. At 5:20 PM I quickly head to our student lounge to prep dinner which I bring with me to the Strategic Product Management class from 6:30-9:20 PM.

Social Life

What are your favorite things to do outside the MBA?

While I LOVE spending time with my classmates, I like to strike a balance and keep connections with my pre-MBA friends. I lived in Seattle prior to getting my MBA and ensure that I get to see my friends outside of the program weekly. I manage a soccer team and use the weekly times to see my friends, stay healthy, and take a break from the MBA program. Finding a hobby outside of Foster keeps me balanced and prevents me from losing touch with my other friends.

Seattle

What are your overall impressions of the Seattle?

I may be biased here, but I LOVE SEATTLE and the Pacific Northwest. I grew up near Portland Oregon and attended UW for my undergraduate degree. I left the Pacific Northwest for 5 years and spent time in Wisconsin and Tennessee. I don’t think you understand how amazing this place is until you are no longer living here. Seattle has so much to offer! From the diverse outdoors adventures, thriving business scene, or numerous downtown adventures (not limited to museums, concerts, sports games, and food/bar scene), you must try hard to get bored. I love living in Seattle and worked hard to continue enjoying the city even during the busy MBA lifestyle. Additionally, a great part of living in Seattle and going to Foster is the Foster network. So many people living in Seattle are Foster Alumni or have heard about our great reputation. I love being able to pop downtown for coffee chats and find that Foster’s network is inclusive and welcoming.

One Last Question

Is there anything else you want to tell prospective students about this program?

When applying to business school spend time reflecting about your unique skills and how you can leverage these skills to grow and push other at Foster and beyond. Explore how you want to lead, whether in front, supportive, or from behind and communicate your intention. During your MBA at Foster you will have so many chances to collaborate, learn (in and out of the classroom), and grow as a person and leader. Be yourself, put yourself out there, and omit fully to make sure you fully enjoy the ride!

More about Marshelle:

Hometown: Camas, WA

Fun fact: I have completed 5 sprint triathlons in two states and hope to complete my first Half-Ironman Triathlon in Victoria BC just before graduation with 3 of my classmates.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Washington, Bioresource Science and Engineering with a Minor in Chemistry (like Chemical Engineering but with a focus on the science of Paper and Biofuel Manufacturing)

Previous Job: Regional Process Improvement Leader at Sonoco Products Company in Seattle and Green Bay WI.

Internship: Amazon as a Sr. Program Manager in Seattle WA

Post-graduation: Associate at McKinsey & Company in Seattle WA

  • Do Hyeon Chung

    Thank you for sharing your story Marshelle!! Your daily life story gave me a sense of how it should be like if I join Foster!!