Q&A with Shaili Guru, TMMBA Class of 2018

Shaili Guru, selected by Disney to participate in their Technology Management Rotation (TMR) program, shares her experience as a recent Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) Program graduate.

About Shaili

After getting her Bachelor’s in Biology and working several hospital jobs, Shaili decided to shift to the technology industry in 2012. While starting her own non-profit chapter for Women in Technology, she worked at several different jobs ranging from manually testing mobile applications to acting as a liaison between a telecommunications carrier and OEM (Samsung).

Shaili has spent the last 2.5 years working at T-Mobile. She started out as a third party vendor manager and an iOS and Android application publisher. After finishing her certification in Project Management and Software Product Management both from University of Washington, she started her career as a Technical Product Manager as well as a Release Manager for the T-Mobile application.

In July 2018, she will be starting at Disney in their TMR program, where for the next two years she will be rotating four times to gain maximum exposure through Disney’s diverse technology organizations.

For the last 18-months, Shaili has been a mom to a now three and one year old kid, a wife, a coworker and a classmate.

Shaili on graduation day with her two kids.

Why did you choose the TMMBA Program at the Foster School of Business?

There are many reasons why I chose to go with TMMBA. However, if I were to pick top three, they are:

  1. Work-school-family life: Having two little ones, with both parents working full-time, I wanted to make sure that we were picking a program that suited our family. The short 18-month rigorous curriculum really did allow me to learn different parts of running a business as well as maintain my work-life balance.
  2. Cohort…cohort…cohort: I didn’t realize how big of an impact my classmates would have on me. After being through the program, I can truly say that they have become my second family. Not only did I learn from all the different personalities and characters (no Disney pun intended) while working alongside them, I appreciated how their diverse opinions really opened my eyes to new perspectives.
  3. Entrepreneurial courses: 20% of our curriculum was geared towards entrepreneurship. Having started my own non-profit chapter in Seattle, I thought I knew what goes into starting your own business but I was WRONG! Ben Hallen and Lance Young did an incredible job of developing a picture in our mind, from helping us come up with unmet needs of customers to making sure that the project/business idea we picked as a team was net present value (NPV) positive, while Julie Sandler’s class added the colors to all of this through bringing in entrepreneurs that we could talk to and learn from. Julie also set up a great expo night which allowed us to gain some first hand experience of being an entrepreneur.

What class was the most useful or interesting to you during the program?

I would have to pick Macroeconomics by Debra Glassman. Before this class, I will admit I didn’t  care very much about politics and how it affects our regular day-to-day economics. However, now after taking this class, I look forward to reading/listening to news everyday. Learning about world economy and tying that to globalization allows me to see how the Indian culture I was born and raised in differs from the one I have been living in for the last two decades, and why.

Did you utilize TMMBA’s career management support? If so, how does it tie into your career goals?

I loved working with the career management team. I have utilized their help from day one. I knew I wanted to do a rotational program after my MBA, and I will be starting one in July. However, before Disney came around, Susie and Danielle helped me prepare my resume and practiced mock interviewing me once/twice every week for 6 weeks due to the amount of different interviews I had on my plate. Not only did they provide great mock interview questions and constructive feedback afterward, but also they gave me a lot of other tools to better myself.

How has the program impacted your career?

With a Bachelor’s in Biology and a few years in technology doing various roles, I knew I wanted a rotational program within a technology company to find what exactly I would like to do. The TMMBA program and career management team helped prepare me for a successful launch into Disney’s TMR program which will allow me to do just that. I will be able to explore technology strategy, product management, product development as well as other areas within their technology sector.

TMMBA Class of 2018 graduates, Shwetal Mokashi and Shaili Guru, on the International Study Tour.

Did you participate in the International Study Tour (IST)? What was your experience?

I really liked participating in the IST, not only because it gave me a different perspective regarding working abroad, but it also gave me a glimpse into what it would be like to live and work there as well. I was fortunate enough to meet with two of our Spotify hosts at a small bar the night before our visit. They both had migrated to Stockholm from US in the last two years. They shared with me, in-depth, their daily lives – living as expats with kids and how it differs from their daily lives they had in the States. One of the other best parts of going on the IST was being able to connect and hangout with my classmates without work or life distractions. Never have I ever sang songs as loudly as I did than in that karaoke bar in Amsterdam with my classmates.

What surprised you most about the TMMBA experience?

What surprised me most is the fact that I know myself a lot better now compared to when I walked in the door. I am also 18-months older, so maybe that has something to do with it. Also, I was taken away by the administrative staff and how well they take care of you. From providing our textbooks and taking care of meals for us on the class days, to making sure every question is answered in our slack channel…they were dedicated to making our lives easier on a daily basis.

Shaili on graduation day with her biggest supporter through the TMMBA experience; her “pillar” and husband, Nandesh.

How have the TMMBA networking opportunities been beneficial to you?

With the help of Ben Hallen, our entrepreneurship professor,  I was able to secure a short consultation gig with two of the companies that graduated through the TechStars 2018 program. Through this short stint at LaunchBoard and WeWork, I was able to see first hand how difficult it is for entrepreneurs to not only develop an idea but also be able to sell those ideas. I had joined during the last month of the startups’ cycle with TechStars and really got to hone in on how they prepare for their big night of the pitch, or “D-Day” as they liked to call it. It was here that I also got to understand how many venture capitalists they had to get in touch with to secure funding, and how hard it was for them to gain the confidence and loyalty of customers in the early stages. I truly valued my time with both of the startups and know that if I was to embark on a startup journey, I would need at least 26 hours in a day, if not more.