Clubs @ Foster: The Consulting Society

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

foster-consulting-41-700x400As the largest MBA student club on campus, the Foster Consulting Society (FCS) “helps Foster MBA students learn about, prepare for, and secure high quality career opportunities in consulting.” FCS also aims to build the Foster MBA program as a major pipeline of consulting talent on the West Coast. With many students interested in consulting as a post-MBA career, FCS is a crucial piece of Foster’s strategy for producing top consulting talent year after year.

FCS President Anna Bacheller

]2 FCS President Anna Bacheller

This year, FCS is led by President Anna Bacheller and Senior Vice President Audrey Almy. Bacheller, a graduate of Whitman College, spent her years before Foster as a strategic lead on client-facing marketing and communications projects at several firms in the Bay Area. Almy, a Pacific Northwest native, received her undergraduate degree from Tufts University and completed two years with Teach For America in Harlem. After that, she then worked for a healthcare technology firm in New York where she focused on client relations and training and development.
FCS Senior VP Audrey Almy

]3 Senior VP, Audrey Almy

Both Bacheller and Almy came to business school to pursue consulting and both spent the summer interning with Accenture. We sat down with them to hear more about FCS and how it achieves the mission of preparing Foster students for the consulting field.

What kind of events does the Consulting Society put on throughout the year? Consulting Society hosts a large range of events throughout the year to help students learn more about the consulting profession, meet firms and develop connections with consultants in the Seattle area, and prepare for recruiting at consulting firms. If we went through the whole list, it would take up this whole article! But some of our favorites, and by far the most helpful events to prepare for recruiting are the Case Interview Workshops and one-on-one interview prep. Second year students dedicate their time to share their skills and and knowledge with first years in order to make the case interview process less daunting. On the other end of the spectrum, I loved the Winter and Spring Socials last year. These events help students make connections with local consultants and alumni who are valuable people to know when going through the recruiting process at different firms. We will be holding both of these again this year as it’s such a great way for students to make connections with firms in Seattle for the purpose of both internships and full time recruiting.

How does the Consulting Society help students with career development? The Consulting Society provides a great deal of help with recruiting, but also helps students learn about the options that a career in consulting can provide. Formal events in the form of workshops and office hours with second year students help first years learn about the different firms in the area. The informal help given by second year students is also extremely valuable; many students are willing to take their time and share their experiences with recruiting, interviewing, and working as an intern.

Do all members of Consulting Society pursue consulting as a career? What if I am someone who doesn’t yet know what I want to do? Not all members need to pursue consulting as a career! Case interview preparation is so helpful for recruiting at many firms, not just consulting. Also, connecting with alumni is helpful regardless of whether you plan to pursue work at their firm or not – creating a connection with someone may help you learn about a different company or career path that interests you. The social events put on by the Consulting Society are great events to help any Foster student build their network. (And we have great snacks.)

What should first years interested in consulting do between now and when they start business school? Read a book about case interviewing. (A simple Google Search will yield many options, but Mark Cosentino has some winners.) Sit down and write a one paragraph answer about why you want to work in consulting. Being able to explain to people why you want to work in consulting or why you will be good at that job is crucial.

The 5 Geniuses You Meet in Business School

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

diamond About the author: Jeremy Diamond grew up in New Jersey and studied film at American University. Before coming to Foster, he worked in TV production and post production for Discovery and Animal Planet. Since joining the Foster MBA class of 2017, he has served on four club boards, interned with a robotics startup, judged a case competition, and formed lifelong friendships. He is not going to tell you which of these five categories he thinks he falls into.

I’ve just finished my first year at Foster and I am still blown away by so many things: Our wonderful professors, the incredible opportunities we have, and how much we’ve all learned in such a short time. Most of all, I am in awe of my incredible classmates. I learn something new from them every single day. There are 128 unique individuals in the Class of 2017. It would take me months to lay out exactly why each of my classmates is wonderful. But, broadly speaking, I have met five different types of genius at Foster.

The Organizational Genius

Who they are: Every MBA student becomes a calendar wizard very quickly.

The Organizational Genius is a wizard of the calendar, a guardian of the Gantt chart, a productivity paladin, and a champion of color-coded lists. Of the five types of genius on this list, this is the easiest one to spot.

What you can learn from them: There are a lot of tangible skills you can pick up from an Organizational Genius. It’s easy to get the “what” and “how” of productivity from them. If you ask for templates, they’ll be more than happy to both build them for you and show you how they work. But the single most important thing you can learn from an Organizational Genius is good habits.

When you’re on a team with an Organizational Genius, offloading logistics and time management to one person — especially when that person is willing — is extremely tempting. Do not waste the opportunity to learn why they do the things they do. Take an active organizational role. The Organizational Genius can help you on your journey to productivity and the team environment is excellent at forcing you to stick with your new habits.

The Social Genius

Who They Are: “Ah ha,” you might say. “These people are easy to spot. Charisma is practically radiating off of them. They’re the type-A power networkers. Quick-witted and always ready with a handshake and a pat on the back.”

And I might say you’re in the ballpark. Yes, most Social Geniuses are great networkers (although many of them defy the type-A stereotype). They might be incredibly popular. But confidence and charisma do not make someone a social genius. What does? Listening.

Social Geniuses understand everything you say and everything you don’t. They are masters of body language, tone of voice, and subtext. They demonstrate emotional awareness — of themselves, of individuals around them, and of the team’s collective emotional state.

What you can learn from them: The value of emotional awareness and excellent listening is self-evident, but our listening habits are nearly automatic. It can take years to change this behavior. One of the best ways to start is to find small ways to learn and improve.

When you work with your team, set limits for yourself that force you to listen — like hitting a personal mute button for one minute at a time or prompting a teammate to speak if they haven’t contributed during a meeting. Ask questions. Focus on drawing out your teammates instead of forcing out your own ideas.

In addition, make a point to have conversations with Social Geniuses — or watch them in conversation with other people. Notice where they look and how they physically respond to new information.

The more time you spend developing yourself socially, the better you will be at identifying emotional soft spots. As much as that skill will benefit you in your professional life, it can have an even greater positive effect in your personal life.

The Quantitative Genius

Who they are: Quantitative Geniuses seem relatively straightforward: they command numbers. You could even say they commune with numbers. And those who approach numbers with religious devotion need to be exceptionally careful to consider problems from many different perspectives.

But even here, there is ambiguity. Some quants understand the Capital Asset Pricing Model deep in their bones but just don’t click with financial accounting. Others are world class mental mathletes and Excel novices. It doesn’t matter if you can see numbers flying around in space. If you’re the only one who can see them, how valuable is your skill?

That’s why the true hallmark of a Quantitative Genius is the ability to explain their work to everybody else — and why the most effective quants can come from the most unexpected backgrounds. When the rest of the team is flummoxed by a finance case, this person’s clear answers, thoughtful explanations, and creative analogies show how seemingly-disparate pieces fit together.

What you can learn from them: This is about more than hard skills like financial modeling, linear programming, or advanced statistics. Your classmates can help you with these, but your professors are bona fide authorities on these subjects.

The Quantitative Genius uses numbers to weave stories. They hold your attention by tightly structuring that story with a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end. It may be counterintuitive, but the biggest thing you can gain from spending time with a Quantitative Genius is confidence in your ability to relate complex ideas as digestible stories. Once it starts to click, you may realize you had quantitative superpowers all along.

You might not get to Stephen Hawking’s level, but you can at least approach They Might Be Giants.

The Creative Genius

Who they are: This is the most difficult of the five to pin down. “Creativity” itself is nebulous and open to interpretation, especially in the context of business school. It can be difficult to express yourself in an environment with so many opportunities to go wrong — even in situations where ambiguity is expected.

And yet the Creative Genius manages to stand out because they speak, write, and otherwise express themselves with a voice that is unmistakably their own. They propose ideas and answers that are neither safe nor easy. Their ideas don’t always work out in practice. They are loathe to go “by the book.” But when they hit on something, they hit on something big.

What you can learn from them: The Creative Genius was not born with that voice. They developed it over many years — and they likely had help in the process. There are well-worn methods and tricks that help us unlock our creative potential or look at things in a different way. The Creative Genius wants to help you unlock that potential. They can teach you the right questions to ask and when to ask them.

And since creative problem solving is in high demand and low supply, these could be some of the most important questions you ever ask.

The Motivational Genius

Who they are: Why do we believe in people? Why do we follow them? Is it because they’re impossibly smart? Impeccably organized? Charismatic and wonderful to be around? Possessed with creative vision?

I would argue that none of those traits are sufficient to motivate people. In fact, the Motivational Genius doesn’t rely directly on skills; often, they’re not even aware that they are doing anything exceptional. They believe they’re just living their lives, working hard, and doing what they can. And that’s the key.

Being a Motivational Genius is about having strong, authentic values and living those values to their fullest every single day. For many people, this is exhausting. The Motivational Genius accepts the challenge.

What you can learn from them: In keeping with what characterizes them, the best thing you can learn from the Motivational Genius is the power of constantly examining your personal values. Are your decisions internally coherent and aligned with what you want out of your experience? What do you want out of your life?

Spend enough time with the Motivational Genius and these questions will become second nature. You will become a more confident decision-maker. And if you’re truly confident in your decisions, people will pick up on that and respond to it.

I use the word “genius” affectionately, but, with extremely rare exceptions, nobody possesses the unique mental powers this honorific requires. I believe everyone exhibits brilliance in at least one of these categories.

These geniuses exercise their talents so naturally that it’s easy to forget how hard they worked to build their skills. This is the best opportunity you will ever have to pick up these skills in a safe, supportive environment. Use it. Learn from the best. Then pay it forward and share your genius with others.

Foster Spotlight: Josh Anderson

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Meet Josh! Born and raised in Las Vegas, Josh Anderson is what we affectionately refer to as a “Double Dawg,” having attended UW for both undergraduate and graduate school. Before Foster, he worked in quality assurance as a test engineer for Emulex Corporation and Fluke Corporation. Josh is the 2016-17 Foster MBAA president, and when he’s not busy with those duties or class, you can find him walking the streets of Ballard with his dog, Bowler.
Why did you decide to go to business school? Working in factories made me really curious about how much we charge for products, how much it costs to build products, and how complex the manufacturing process has become because of globalization, outsourcing, etc. I realized that I loved talking about the companies and their strategies more than about the products that they were making. I enjoyed being an engineer, but I enjoyed it more as a hobby than a day-to-day job. That’s when I realized I should get an MBA.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Seattle? Originally it was the local music scene, but now it’s more than that. The laid-back yet really intelligent atmosphere vibes well with me, and it’s grown to be home over the past 12 years. I actually had to move away for two years because of a job, and it killed me. On a whim, I just quit my job and moved back here because I just missed the town so much.

Why did you choose Foster? I have a friend who is a year above me, and I learned about the program from her. Foster seemed to be a “roll up your sleeves” and “get to work” program with really great people which is what I wanted. And, I’m happy to say, I have found that all to be true. The people in our class are amazing: friendly, happy to help out, and eager to work hard. I’m just thrilled with the school and will be sad the day I graduate.

What’s the MBAA? The Foster MBA Association manages and monitors the issues that matter most to our student body –diversity, international student affairs, career services, academic affairs, etc.—as well as coordinates large scale social events such as graduation. We have 12 vice presidents who focus on a specific interest, and 3 senior VPs, with myself, who manage and coordinate the 22 clubs, the budget, etc.

Why did you decide to get involved? When I joined the program, I knew that I wanted to throw myself into it and get really involved. I decided to run for a first year representative position, which is a voting member of the MBAA. This exposed me to a bit of everything and was a great opportunity to be a spokesperson for the class. I loved this experience, so I decided to run for president to continue working for the class in this capacity.

Favorite class at Foster? Finance. Professor Gilbert is a very serious guy who takes his work very seriously, but at the same time, he has no qualms about having a great time while doing it. I really appreciate that. He holds people to a high standard.

Favorite activity so far? The Whistler trip! (Every year after Fall Quarter finals, students take a group trip to Whistler, B.C. to celebrate the end of the quarter and kick off the winter break.) I spearheaded a trip to a Scandinavian bathhouse while there, and I found myself at this amazing spa, sitting in the middle of the woods, snow falling all around, in complete silence. They actually made you sign a no-talking agreement! It was an amazing way to decompress from the Quarter, and the whole trip was a great experience with my classmates.

If Foster had a school song, what would it be? “Walkabout” by Atlas Sound. The opening lyrics of “What did you want to see? What did you want to be when you grew up?” really speak to the opportunities at Foster, and that the door is wide open for you to do something totally different. You just need to work for it. The rest of the lyrics talk of taking a leap and not looking back, “To go ahead and change your life without regard to what is said”. When you walk into Foster you are making a decision to change your life and dedicate yourself to becoming a better leader.

2016 Foster MBA Commencement

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

On Saturday, June 11, the 2016 Commencement for the Foster School of Business took place underneath characteristically cloudy and drizzly Seattle skies. But inside Meany Hall, the sun was shining brightly as over 200 Full-time MBA, Evening MBA, and PhD students were joined by faculty, staff, friends, and family to celebrate the successful completion of their degrees.

Becky See, Class of 2016 MBA Graduate

Becky See, Class of 2016 MBA Graduate

Delivering the student speech, Full-time MBA student Becky See focused on the opportunities that exist for her and her fellow classmates to make an impact on their communities. “I am not asking for Bill & Melinda Gates-level impact necessarily,” said See. “Sure, that would be amazing. But, I am also thinking about day to day impact, like making sure everyone at the conference table gets a voice, sitting on a nonprofit board, or investing more time in your family and community than in your bank account. You can make your own definition of “world,” but do not let that world pass you by.”

In his keynote address, Howard Behar, the former CEO of Starbucks, continued this theme of impact and service as he challenged the graduates to always put the people of the business first, no matter their rank within the company. “I believe what you have just been given is an obligation to serve others. It doesn’t make any difference what job you have or what industry you work in,” said Behar. “I hope that you will always remember why you are here and what you stand for: to serve people.”

Howard Behar delivering the keynote address

Howard Behar delivering the keynote address

Foster holds 2nd Annual MBA Microsoft Excel Tournament

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

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.