April Kyrkos, Chief Marketing Officer at the USA Games Special Olympics, shares about her experience in the Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) Program.
April shares a passion for sports and the great NW. She is a Seattle native who graduated from Willamette University where she played four years of collegiate soccer. Her experience ranges from working with the Seahawks, a sales executive at KING TV, marketing and event operations at Rezin Sports Marketing, to a 2.5-year stint in the tech industry at Voicebox Technologies. Currently, April is Chief Marketing Officer at the USA Games Special Olympics, which will be hosted in Seattle on the UW Campus July 1 – 6, 2018.
Prior to earning her Foster MBA, April earned her Bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric and Media Studies from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. In her spare time April likes to spend time with her family and friends, walk her dog, watch football, play soccer, and hike!
Why did you choose the TMMBA Program at the Foster School of Business?
The TMMBA Program schedule is designed for working professionals. The concept that you could work, learn and then apply it the very next day was one of the main reasons I chose this program. Learning in a classroom provides you with great concepts, but applying those concepts as you learn them helps translate them into a long term skill set.
Another reason the TMMBA Program stood out was the technology management component. I do not have a technical background, and when I started a new position at a tech company I felt like even their vernacular was hard to understand. But what I learned from working in the tech industry – an industry so unlike any others I worked in before – was that understanding technology’s impact on business, especially in the Seattle market, is a huge advantage.
How do you want the TMMBA Program to impact your career? Has it already?
I’m a firm believer that life is so often about being at the right place at the right time. When I started the TMMBA Program I was fortunate enough to be in a role that had great career potential and worked with people who believed in me. Within the first few months of the program I was promoted to a role that better suited my aspirations. Then, with a growing track record and my MBA Program continuing to give me additional skills, eight months later I was promoted again. As I moved up I had more opportunity to align what I was learning in my MBA classes with my daily work. Fast forward to April 2018; the TMMBA Program is drawing to an end and the company I work for is acquired by another. I wanted my next career move to better align with my long term goals and I was outspoken about what those goals were. I was fortunate enough to be offered an executive role for a national sports organization. None of this would have been possible without my involvement in the TMMBA Program.
What has been your favorite aspect of the TMMBA experience?
I can honestly say that sitting in a classroom on Saturday morning was definitely not my favorite aspect. But, what did make this not just bearable but enjoyable was the people. The classmates, professors and TMMBA staff are incredibly brilliant, funny and kind people. The professors’ depth of knowledge is, of course, impressive but more so the lectures are structured in interactive, engaging and relatable manners. The TMMBA Program staff also ends up being such an impactful component to the experience. Whether it be their organization or their supportive gestures, taking time to get to know them made the TMMBA Program even more enjoyable. Lastly, the individuals in my cohort really made my experience unique. So many different backgrounds and experiences mixed with a lot of humor made for a very entertaining and memorable experience.
Describe a time when you learned something one day and applied it the next.
This was a recurring theme for me so it’s hard to pinpoint just one instance. However, what really stands out to me was Competitive Strategy with David Tan. I took on additional responsibilities in product management right about the same time I was taking this course. This was an area where I had little to no background, and every class I felt that “aha!” moment. This class provided me with the toolsets to work efficiently and productively with my Senior Vice President of Product to establish, guide and deliver a new product strategy for my company.
Do you have any specific tips or advice you would like to pass along to someone considering the TMMBA Program?
When I first decided to get my MBA, my train of thought was, “I just need that piece of paper so I can check the box on a job application and add MBA to my resume.” With that mentality, I was discounting the value of the knowledge I would gain. Now I understand the knowledge far outweighs checking the MBA box on a resume. So my advice to anyone considering the TMMBA Program is, do not undervalue the course work and how much you will grow from the materials, the cohort and the professors.