Every year, Foster MBA students get to travel the world as part of long-term MBA exchange programs or on short-term study tours/projects, led by the Global Business Center. This is Peter Kazarian’s account of the March ’15 study tour in Japan. Super jealous.
Interview with Junny Kim, 1st-year MBA, Class of 2016. FOSTERing MBA Access is a student-run series of events sponsored by the Diversity In Business Club, Women In Business Club, and Out In Business Club. The events are dedicated to increasing awareness and access to MBA-level education in underrepresented communities.
Greg’s boyfriend is a current student here at Foster, and is a member of the ‘Blue Dots’ – the network of spouses and significant others whose loved ones are in the Foster MBA program. The name comes from the blue dot stickers that were put on their name tags during welcome weekends, to indicate that they were the spouse/significant other of an admitted student.
What did you do before the MBA?
Prior to the MBA I was an Air Force Acquisitions Manager (aka Product Manager), but my background is in Mechanical Engineering. I supported cool stuff like satellite launches and advanced weapons research, but after 8 years I was ready for a life of peace, and for an opportunity to recharge. So I chose to get an MBA and devote two years of my life entirely to personal development, and Foster had just jumped up in the rankings. After the MBA, I hope to work in marketing or product management, working with cool people and tackling new challenges!
The monthly TG* usually draws a big crowd but none larger than the annual “Indian TG.” Hosted by current students, this TG is popular because it is always filled with delicious food, fun music and, of course, a Bollywood dance! Check out this year’s student dance, performed during the Indian TG and the Welcome Weekend for admitted students.
* The origin of the “TG” event name has been explained differently over the years, but it is most commonly explained as a shortening of T.G.I.F. (Thank goodness it’s Friday). These events happen monthly throughout the year and each one always has a theme associated with it.
On April 1st, rising second-year student Stuart Childress will be assuming the role of President of the MBA Association (MBAA) for the 2015-16 school year.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA, especially the full-time program at Foster?
Like many people at Foster or considering Foster, I am a career changer. I spent 5 years working at a non-profit doing program operations. As someone motivated by challenges and opportunities, I reached a point that I was no longer experiencing either of those and wanted to pivot to the for-profit sector. While I felt like I had leadership and project management experience in spades, I was lacking the quantitative skills like finance, statistics and accounting. I was already living in Seattle and wanted to eventually work here. I figured Foster would be a great entry into companies native to or with a Seattle presence. I ultimately chose Foster because it was a great fit for me culturally.
What motivated you to be involved in MBA student leadership?
Leadership has always been an area I’ve pursued. In fact, one of the really appealing aspects of Foster was the variety of available leadership opportunities, even as a first year. There is an inherent opportunity cost when you choose to do the full-time MBA program. I really believe that as students, we have the power to shape our Foster experience and extract the value from it that we want and expect. But, we have to take the initiative as leaders to make it happen.
What goals do you have for the MBAA this next year?
- Streamline communication between various aspects of Foster Program, including Program, Academics, Career Management and Student Clubs.
- Increase collaboration between first and second years
- Continue to improve processes between Career Management and students
What has been your experience with being in the full-time MBA Program?
My experience has been really positive. To be honest, I was intimidated about coming to the MBA program. I didn’t quite know what to expect. But, I got over that fear really quickly. My classmates are smart, interesting, and incredibly helpful. The professors, career management, etc. really want you to get the most out of this program. And, we really do have a lot of fun. Of course, as with anything, there are some improvements I would like to see. As a class, we are already pushing for changes that hopefully will make your experience even better.
What advice would you give someone looking at pursuing an MBA?
My primary advice is, as I mentioned, you give up a lot to pursue an MBA–salary, time, possibly location. Make sure pursuing an MBA actually fits in with you career goals (even if they are not entirely nailed down) and is not just an exit strategy from your current position. I’ll have more advice for you once you’ve decided to attend!
To be honest, one of the main reasons I chose to apply to the Foster MBA program was for its excellent exchange programs with 16 partner schools in 14 countries around the world, which include Japan. I had always wanted to do an exchange program in Japan.
As I recall my study abroad experience and think about how to fit an extraordinary 4-month experience in one short blog, all my senses are awakened once again as if I’m seeing the beautiful red autumn leaves, eating a plate of fresh sushi and meditating in a quiet temple.
To me, Japan is a land of inspiration. Beauty lies in everything, from the Japanese language to the sophisticated art forms, but this beauty is not obvious on the surface. One must carefully observe and learn about Japan to fully appreciate it. In Osaka (a major city in Japan), people call a potato “o-imo-san,” where only “imo” means potato. “o” is a term which is used to show respect, “san” is a suffix used after a person’s name to show affection. In brief, people from Osaka call a potato something like “Dear Mr. Potato.” The Japanese rock garden is an art form in itself, composed by an arrangement of rocks, trees and sand which create different forms and images. The largest rock garden in Japan, which I’ve seen and really liked, depicts the image of a pair of dragons emerging from a sea of clouds.These are just two among tons of examples showing the uniqueness, creativity and inspiration the Japanese culture carries.
As exchange students in Japan, we got a chance to grasp the creativity of Japan in an MBA elective at Waseda Business school called Creative Thinking and Ethics in Business. Nobody would expect to have such a class in an MBA program where you learn abstract painting, talk about meditation and the different functions of the left and right brain. It was one of my favorite classes at Waseda. In a nutshell, the class taught us how to practice creativity through understanding which side of the brain we use more often, through abstract painting to express feelings and how important creativity is to various fields of life, including business. We also learned about intriguing research on the difference between a native Japanese speaker’s brain and the brain of those with other native languages, which explains why the Japanese love the sounds of insects and their counterparts don’t. This class, to me, provides excellent evidence of the fact that creativity is an integral part of the Japanese way of doing things.
Inspiration came from not only the language, the art, and the classes, but also from the people I met. A young Japanese couple who has two little boys hosted me in Kyoto for several days. Since they have kids they could not travel, even though they both love travelling and learning about new cultures. Instead, they host visitors from around the world who come to Japan to exchange culture and ideas. Spending a wonderful time eating, talking with them and their friends, and playing with the boys made me think about my future family. It would be a great idea to host international guests once I have my own family. I’d love to bring in people from around the world who come visit my country, to share stories and experiences with them.
In a few words, this is how I remember Japan: beautiful natural scenery, mesmerizing old streets and houses, unique and exciting culture, and delicious food. And yes, the slogan of its tourism industry is absolutely correct: Endless discovery. Yet, all these features seem static. Thinking about them will bring me back to some points in time in the past. There is one thing I took from Japan that I know will go with me for a very long time: Inspiration.
MBA Candidate, Class of 2015
In December, a group of MBA students took part in the Global Study Tour to China. Accompanied by staff and faculty, they visited Shanghai and Beijing and visited 12 companies while exploring the cultural and economic landscape of China. Below is a recap written by current student Ryan Osher (MBA ’16).
Growth. Scale. Partnership.
These were common themes noticed by 8 Foster MBA’s as they traveled across China last December. Their visit included 12 companies and 3 days worth of free time to enjoy all the best Beijing and Shanghai had to offer. Students were eager to dive in to China’s culture and present themselves on behalf of Foster. What they didn’t expect, however, was just how meaningful the company visits would be and the lasting friendships that were made.
The two week trip included visits to Microsoft, Amazon, and Nike, to name a few. Students learned Boeing’s strategy to maintain growth in China, directly from the President of Boeing China. They met with the CFO of Starbucks China to better understand how the world’s largest coffee company was able to successfully enter and thrive in a tea drinking country. In addition, Directors at Apple explained their strategy to navigate around counterfeit products and maintain their growth rate. Students also met with foreign service agents from the United States Embassy to better understand trade relations and diplomatic efforts between the US and China.
The two week trip provided rich experiences and a lifetime of insight. More than anything, the company visits left each traveler with a greater understanding and appreciation for China as the country continues to drive the world’s economic growth. It is incredible that Foster provides students with the opportunity to experience culture and business first-hand as they develop into the global business leaders of the future.
First-year student, Lauren Thompson, reflects upon her first quarter as a Foster School student and how she’s found some balance with her other important job: being the proud mother of a 4-year old boy. She chronicles this in her personal blog, LovingMarshall.com, and we’ve reposted it here.
First Quarter: In the books.
Last year, about this time, I attended a workshop on applying for a full-time MBA program. I had to book a babysitter because my husband traveled every other week to the East Coast for his job. As a work-from-home mom that was fairly new to Seattle, I was more anxious about navigating the bus system than going to the workshop itself.
This year, I’ve just finished my first quarter as an MBA student. My husband took a job that doesn’t travel so that I could (attempt) to balance parenting and go to school full-time. And my bus driver and I are on a first-“Hi! How are you?”-basis.
Last year, about this time, I packed all of Marshall’s lunches. I made most of our family meals. I proudly baked my homemade bread twice a week.
Now, Daniel is the one who makes sure Marshall’s lunches are packed. He does most of the cooking. (I could not have survived this Fall without him.) I am lucky if I bake anything that qualifies as “homemade” more than once a month.
Last year, about this time, I felt “new.” Most of my conversations were with friends in Austin and Alabama. I was equally in awe of Seattle’s beauty and depressed by its “lights out” at 4:30PM policy.
This year I feel connected. Most of my conversations are with people here in Seattle. My chats with my friends in Austin and Alabama are more positive. And I’m more concerned with understanding the Weighted Average Cost of Capital than worrying about the sun setting in the middle of the afternoon.
Last year, about this time, I walked Marshall to school every morning and picked him up every afternoon. I worked around his schedule, as I had for 3+ years. It was worth it. This year, I rarely get to take Marshall to school, or pick him up. I usually rush out before he leaves for school with Daniel, and I get home just before dinner. I thought I would feel guilty about this. More than that, I worried that Marshall would feel that I was neglecting him. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Marshall is thriving. He loves that he gets to spend so much time with Daniel. He loves that both he and Mommy are going to school. On nights and weekends, he often sees me studying, and occasionally he gets frustrated when I can’t play with him. More often, though, he curls up beside me and does his own “work.” (Sometimes his chicken scratch makes more sense to me than Accounting.) At the risk of being overly sentimental, my son is proud of me. And I’m proud to show him that women in this country can be mothers and students and career builders and influencers. We don’t have to choose.
Last year, I made pancakes every weekend, to the delight of my 100 Instagram followers (and my dad).
That hasn’t changed one bit.
Working for Microsoft is like a dream come true since it was my goal when I applied to the Foster MBA program.
Over this past summer, I interned with Microsoft as a Partner Channel Marketing Manager Intern in the Worldwide Partner Group, under the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners organization. Being an international student, even though I had similar marketing background in the technology hardware industry, working for Microsoft was still an eye-opening and a learning experience for me.
During the twelve-week internship, everyday was a new challenge since Microsoft is such a big organization and it required multiple stakeholders’ support to get things done. My project was to advocate the benefits of Microsoft’s Cloud solutions, and I worked closely with vendors to create training videos, blogs, and the worldwide partner training guidebook. It was truly rewarding to see my work being posted on the Microsoft Partner Network website which 400,000 plus partners use. Moreover, in order to get support from other stakeholders in rolling out the project, I had to overcome my shyness and proactively set up meetings with various colleagues to gain their buy-in. To my surprise, despite the fact that many colleagues were senior and very busy, they were still willing to spare time to listen to my pitch, and also gave me feedback, which truly demonstrated the teamwork and collaborative spirit at Microsoft.
I was also given a great opportunity to go on a business trip to Washington D.C. in July to attend the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. It was an important event for the company as attendees came from over 150 countries and represented many of the most successful, top tier partners. I was thrilled to be there and talked to the partners in person. We also had fun watching the FIFA World Cup Championship game together!
Last but not least, Microsoft also cared a lot for interns. There were many speaker events where we got to meet CEO Satya Nadella, the CMO, the head of HR, and many others to learn more about the company. Let alone the fun intern activities to Leavenworth, Puyallup, Casino night, Lake Washington Cruise and kayaking in Portage Bay. I had a great time meeting other interns and the Microsoft internship experience is truly one of the most unforgettable summers I have ever had! I am excited to be going back to Microsoft for a full time role after completing my Foster MBA.
Evelyn Chia-Wei Chiang
Foster MBA, Class of 2015