Foster Venture Fellows Co-Founder Hartley Riedner on Networking and Building A Sustainable Program

I wrote earlier about the founding of the Foster Venture Fellows, which was started in 2015 as a professional student organization providing practical venture capital industry experience for Foster MBAs and valuable project work for venture capital firms. The previous article on August 2015 was erroneously titled – it should have been titled ‘How three MBA students are connecting Foster MBAs and the Seattle VC community’ because there was a third co-founder: Hartley Riedner, Class of 2016, and a member of the Foster MBA team that won second place at the 2015 Global Venture Capital and Investment Competition. I apologize for this error and got a chance to talk to Hartley last week to hear more about her experience and how the Venture Fellows went. Read on below! – Nelson Tang, Class of 2016

The MBA team who took second at the 2015 VCIC Global Finals in Chapel Hill, NC: Jake Wallack MBA ‘15, Matt Gryll MBA ’15, Hartley Riedner MBA ’16, Esther Perman MBA ’15, Travis Vaughan MBA ’16. Hartley (3rd from left) and the rest of the team with their prize for taking second at the 2015 VCIC Global Finals in Chapel Hill, NC …(Full Post >)

Posted by Nelson Tang - May 25th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink

Foster holds 2nd Annual MBA Microsoft Excel Tournament

excel tournament 3“Well…I’m, like…really good at Excel.”

“Well, do you know VLOOKUP?”

“Yes. That grade-school formula? Can you make macros?”

“Taught myself off Youtube. How’s your nested-IF game?”

This is not a scene from Kung Fu Panda 3. This discussion happens every Fall quarter at Foster, as new MBA students get to know their teammates and the skills they bring.

Most of us arrive here with some experience in Microsoft Office – and plenty of us crunched our way through big Excel spreadsheets for a good chunk of our 20s. And we definitely use it during the MBA as well as after. So Foster’s MBA Strategy Club got together and started an Excel tournament to settle “who the best” was. This year, during the 2nd Annual Foster MBA MSFT Excel Tournament, we even got a $350 sponsorship from Microsoft for our efforts.

For the second year in a row, our Excel-savvy MBA students competed against one another in a multi-event skills challenge. Like a (very nerdy) decathlon, participants took on a series of timed events, focused around specific MBA-relevant skill areas.

excel tournament 2“Build a chart to these specs, from this dataset!”

“Transform these fields, alphabetize and remove records here, and here!”

“There’s an error somewhere in this spreadsheet. You have 15 min before a big meeting to find it.”

When the dust cleared, Yuvika Kedia of the MBA Class of 2016 stood triumphant! As a certified Chartered Accountant, with stamps like Ernst & Young India and Amazon on her resume, and as an all-around expert – she won one round handily and came close in the remaining two.

“Definitely challenging, but fun. A lot of real world situations like we’d face in the office,” our champion said. ”It felt pretty good to win, too.”

The Foster MBA Strategy Club exists to give its members the problem-solving skills they’ll need, out there in the business world. We appreciate Microsoft’s sponsorship – and look forward to next year’s event!


peter kazarian Prior to Foster, Peter Kazarian was a lifelong Californian and veteran of the LA/SF digital/ad agency scene. As a digital strategist, he focused on web strategy, e-commerce and database-driven marketing for major nonprofits like the American Red Cross and the City of Hope cancer treatment center. After winning a few industry-specific awards, he came to Foster to move fully into consumer marketing on behalf of for-profits.

He really enjoys his UW education and bonding with classmates and alums, and he’s going back to Starbucks HQ doing Brand and Channel marketing after graduation. When not networking or studying, he spends his time cooking, hiking, and going deep in the blogosphere. And trying to adjust to the PNW’s weather and lack of Mexican food.

Posted by Mollly B. Forte - May 21st, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink

The Second Year of the MBA

The Class of 2016 has only 4 weeks left, and our days as full-time MBAs are quickly coming to a close. Today, I’d like to share what the second year of the Foster MBA was like for me, and hopefully this helps some future Foster MBAs who are wondering what to expect in the second half of the program. This will also be one of my last blog posts as the student Inside the MBA Blog Coordinator, but I’m excited to announce that that we have a new coordinator, Molly B. Forte (Class of 2017)! Thanks for reading this blog, and good luck! – Nelson Tang, Class of 2016

Second Year comes to a close

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Posted by Nelson Tang - May 7th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink

From Service to School: Resources for Veterans interested in the Foster MBA Programs

If you’re a veteran interested in pursuing a full-time MBA, here’s a great guest post from Joe Dennis (Class of 2016), a former Army Captain and the 2015-2016 President of the Foster Veterans Association, with advice on how to make the transition from service to school. The military veteran community here at Foster is pretty tight, and we were in your shoes 1-2 years ago. I had some reservations about choosing the right school, but I met with other veterans at Foster and I knew that I had to come here. I hope this helps with your transition! – Nelson Tang, USAF 2006-2014

Image Credit: UW Buerk Center of Entrepreneurship

Image Credit: UW Buerk Center of Entrepreneurship

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Posted by Nelson Tang - February 11th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink

Predicting Coffee Demand with a Crystal Ball: My summer internship at Starbucks

This week we have a great post by Peter Kazarian (Class of 2016)! You might remember him from his writeup on the Japan study tour and the 2015 Silicon Valley Tech Trek. Just last summer, Peter had a great opportunity to intern at Starbucks in their channel development department. Read on for more about his experience at one of the most exciting brands in the world!

Peter and other 2015 Starbucks Interns, Day 1. Learning what it means #ToBeAnIntern

Peter and other 2015 Starbucks Interns, Day 1. Learning what it means #ToBeAnIntern

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Posted by Nelson Tang - January 28th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink

Former Entrepreneur Meets Brand Management

Today we have a guest post from Emily Palmer (Class of 2016), a former entrepreneur and talented artist who really transformed her career over the summer thanks to an amazing Brand Management internship at Talking Rain. She came back to Foster in the Fall with a much deeper level of insight into the consumer and I just had to find out how she was able to grow so much in such a short amount of time. Hear more about her story and her internship experience below!

Emily Palmer at Talking Rain

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Posted by Nelson Tang - January 18th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink

Managing the Career Change: Peter Woodward’s path to Goldman Sachs

Today we have a great interview with Peter Woodward (Class of 2016) about his experience as a career changer and his internship at Goldman Sachs. Peter comes from a non-traditional pre-MBA background, but he’s successfully parlayed that into a new career and is a great example of someone who was able to simultaneously change industries, geographies, and job function. Read more about his experience and his advice below!

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Posted by Nelson Tang - January 5th, 2016 - 0 comments - Permalink

Foster Students in Silicon Valley – The 2015 Bay Area Tech Trek

Today we have a guest article from Peter Kazarian, Class of 2016! You may remember Peter from his story about his amazing experience at the MBA Study Tour to Japan last spring. In October, Peter organized and led the annual Foster Technology Club’s Bay Area Tech Trek, a student-run event that takes Foster MBA students on a tour of Silicon Valley tech companies. Read on for Peter’s recap of the event!

2015 tech trek twitter

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Posted by Nelson Tang - December 9th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

The Toyota & Net Impact Next Generation Mobility Challenge

Toyota Mobility Challenge
Photo Credit: Paul Gibson

Today we have a special guest blog by Caitlin McElwrath, Class of 2017! Caitlin attended the 2015 Toyota and Net Impact Next Generation Mobility Challenge at the University of Washington, a competition where multidisciplinary teams of students work together to dream up and map out innovative solutions to a specific mobility or transportation issue. The winning team from the challenge will have an opportunity to receive summer internships with Toyota to incubate their ideas with their innovation partners. Read about Caitlin’s experience below!

This story originally posted on the MBAA Net Impact Blog

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Posted by Nelson Tang - December 2nd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink

One Person’s Experience: The Benefits of an MBA

Guest post! Brennen Ricks (Class of 2015) wrote a 4-part series on his blog,, to answer the question: “Was the MBA worth it?” We’re featuring an abbreviated version of the 4th and final part of the series here. For the full version of the article and more from Brennen, be sure to check out his blog!

The Benefit of an MBA

This is my last post of a series on if an MBA was worth it, even though there is still plenty more I could say.

This isn’t going to be a ‘tooting-my-own-horn’ essay. It’s an objective list of what I got out of the Foster MBA program that I could not have received through my own self-directed learning from books or online tutorials. 

Let’s also be real and acknowledge that a formal upper-tier MBA program gets you access to some things that self-directed study just can’t…such as (brace yourself for buzz-words) access to networks of people, certain hands-on experience, job-placement systems, friendships, and a unique way to learn about yourself.

I have 4 main topics, and if you read any of them, I hope you read the last section.

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Posted by Nelson Tang - October 26th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink