Q&A with Alex Draper, EMBA student

Alex DraperAlex Draper, Vice President of Global Marketing at K2 Sports, shares his experiences in the UW Foster School’s Executive MBA program.

Why did you choose the Executive MBA program at the UW Foster School of Business?

I have been living in Seattle for more than 20 years and I am hoping to continue to do so for years to come. It was important for me to build relationships with local colleagues and faculty to tap into during and after the program. I looked for the best EMBA program in the area and the UW Foster School of Business was the clear choice.

Tell us about your study team. How has your study team affected your experience in the EMBA program?

The study teams have been critical to learning in the program. Each team member brings a unique perspective and expertise which helps you see more options and solutions than you can possibly come up with on your own. In addition, you build deep bonds with your teammates which makes the hard work more enjoyable and rewarding. The workload can get intense at times and it is great to have a group that can support each other through it and hold each other accountable to do their best work.

Describe the classroom environment

The classes are engaging and conversational. They are packed with learning material and yet there is somehow time to pause on an issue for a while or even venture slightly off topic to explore your curiosity on the material. Our class happens to be pretty light-hearted, so we find ourselves laughing through a lot of the material which makes four straight days of class a lot easier to absorb.

What are your impressions of the faculty?

Every faculty member has been deeply passionate about their material and committed to ensuring that each student learn as much as possible in the class. They have reverence for the depth of experience in each member of the EMBA cohort and encourage group conversations to relate the material to real world situations. They are very accessible for questions and response turnaround is fast. Each seems genuinely excited to see us take the material into our work environments and has offered their long term support to help us succeed after the program is complete.

Are there major changes happening in your industry, and if so how has the EMBA program prepared you for them?

K2 Sports is primarily a manufacturer of winter sports equipment. When it snows, our business is great and when it doesn’t, our business it tight. We are in an era with a looming threat of global climate change which creates uncertainties for weather based activities. The EMBA program is giving me the tools needed to strategize the next steps for our business to ensure that we continue to succeed long into the future.

What strategies do you use to balance work, life, and the EMBA program?

For me, every crack of time needs to be filled in order to feel like I am getting the most out of the program. I schedule out work to be done on each day leading up to the following month’s classes to ensure that I stay on track with the work. My group agrees to the subjects we will cover in the coming month’s group meetings so that we are all prepared to discuss the same material. My family sticks to a routine of a certain amount of family time after work each day and a weekend event or two to ensure that no one is getting neglected. There are definitely peaks and valleys in the workload, so when I can get in a little extra family time, I do so that when I need to focus 100% on exams or projects, it does not feel as selfish. Some detailed tips…I read or watch recorded review sessions while on the treadmill and I started commuting by bus to work instead of driving so that I can get an extra hour of reading done each day.