Michaela Byrne recaps eLEAD- the first class students take as MBA Students.
This last weekend, the class of 2017 completed their very first Foster MBA school credits. eLead was a full weekend complete with personal reflection, team building, creative peer presentations and of course, meaningful happy hours. Now that the work week is back in full swing and we’ve had a chance to reflect on the weekend, below are a a few of my takeaways.
Just because you’re in grad school, does not mean that you’re a faster reader than before grad school. Noting the number of students pouring into our readings the morning before class tells me that we may have fooled ourselves into thinking we’re capable of reading 20 plus pages just before class begins. Fortunately, students proved just fast enough to get through the pages to have engaging discussions with both Professor Bigley and Professor Fong.
The UW bars haven’t changed much, but the company in them may have. As a former UW undergrad, I swapped countless stories with other two-time Husky’s on their past experiences on the Ave. Twenty-one runs, Thursday night outings, and the unbeatable food offerings of the late night hours were all reminisced by those who had spent four years here before. But now the conversations have shifted towards entrepreneurship, technology, or maybe even politics… Undoubtedly an incredible class of students to share insights and a beer with.
Just because you’re getting your MBA does not mean that the touchy feely stuff doesn’t matter. It matters more. Professor Christina Fong’s Leadership class gave us the opportunity to reflect on feedback from our peers, while Professor Bigley challenged us to share tips with one another on ways to combat some of our weaknesses. While diving into deep discussions about one another and ourselves, it became very apparent that this program will serve as so much more than a tool to polish our business acumen, but an opportunity for personal growth.
This program is exceptional. We have yet to begin our first class and already our start to Foster has been an amazing one. We’ve shared personal stories, gave semi-embarassing presentations, learned that Tim truly does like to stand on things before he makes an announcement, and have begun to build strong and lasting friendships. Class of 2016, and 2015, watch out. 2017 is starting at full strength, ready to take advantage of all that Foster has to offer.
It’s back to school time and the Foster MBA Admissions team couldn’t be more excited to welcome 112 individuals into the Evening MBA Class of 2017. The decision to return to school differs from person to person, but the reasons for why they chose Foster all sound familiar: they are excited for the collaborative, challenging environment that Foster provides and everybody cannot wait to meet their incredible network of classmates.
Meet eight of these incoming students – all who have agreed to document their first year in the program through the Foster Evening MBA Blog. Like the rest of their class, they come from diverse backgrounds and have a myriad of interests. And, like the rest of their class, they can’t wait to meet each other!
ROSE ANTHONY: Rose is a member of the 2017 Evening MBA class and currently a systems engineer at the Boeing Company. Her background includes a BS in structural engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a BS in mathematics from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Rose grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved to Seattle after graduation in 2009. Rose loves the Northwest, as it fits greatly with her active lifestyle and keeping busy. In Rose’s free time she is an avid distance runner, enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, eating, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.
MICHAELA BYRNE: Michaela is joining the incoming class of 2017 in the Foster Evening program this fall. Originally from Alaska, Michaela has spent extensive time living overseas, graduating from High School in Thailand and spending long periods of time in Europe and other parts of Asia. Since graduation, Michaela has pursued a career path that combines both her love for Business and passion for Technology, by successfully contributing to digital companies, both large and small. Currently, Michaela is the Global Operations Manager for Zooppa.com Inc., a crowdsourcing platform for online media, based out of Seattle. In her free time Michaela loves running, yoga, exploring Seattle’s music scene, and traveling. She is eager to begin her graduate school experience at Foster and looks forward to the opportunities to get involved!
ANNA CASCIARI: Anna is an avid reader of the novel variety. You’ll find her in the kitchen on Sunday nights cooking up a variety of dishes and treats to last her the week. She Crossfits most mornings at 6AM, and the other days she’s outside running the Burke Gilman trail. And although she would love to fill my days with hobbies, she also needs to work: Her current role is as a Supervisor on an implementation project to replace Costco’s HR/Payroll System. She has been on the project two years, but she’s worked at Costco for over four and have had positions in Accounting and HR, moving from entry level to analyst positions. After this current project, she will move into a role supervising a department that oversees the Organizational Management (Org Structure) portion of the new HR/Payroll System. This is a brand new department at Costco, which she imagines will make the next year interesting as her department learns what their roles require.
ANDREW CREIGHTON: Andrew joins us from the food manufacturing industry, where he has worked since getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering in 2010. His career interests include manufacturing operations and consumer marketing. Outside of work, Andrew likes to spend time in the outdoors, especially in both the mountains and the waters: he’s a scuba diver and snowboarder.
Meredith Heestand: Meredith was born and raised in Bothell, WA and after graduating with a degree in Molecular Biology from University of Denver, she returned to Seattle in 2008 where she has been a Molecular Biologist and part-time cycling instructor at Flywheel Sports. Meredith has six years of professional experience under her belt; nearly four years at Seattle BioMed spent researching the parasite causing African Sleeping Sickness, and two years and counting in biotech at Theraclone Sciences where she develops cancer therapeutics. Aside from work, fitness and volunteering are her main hobbies. Meredith loves to road cycle, run, rock climb, snowboard, and lift the occasional heavy barbell at CrossFit. She’s completed one marathon, several half marathons, 10 century bike rides, and last year finished the STP 204 mile bike ride in one day. She co-captains a Bike MS Washington fundraising team and sits on the Ambassador Board for Friends of the Children Washington, a non-profit providing full time mentors to vulnerable youth in Seattle. She also enjoys cooking, spending time with her 1-year-old niece, and indulging in good wine and bourbon.
RAY LOYOLA: Ray has been an engineer at Boeing for over 10 years. He is currently an engineer in the passenger seats group, where he is responsible for the electrical integration and certification of seats into the 747 and 777 airplanes. The organization works constantly with seat suppliers around the world, to ensure on-time delivery of their seats into Boeing’s customer’s airplanes. Prior to working with seats, he spent 7 years on the 787 Dreamliner program as it went through initial design, ground / flight testing, and the delivery to the first few customers. Outside of work, Ray enjoys playing soccer, watching the Sounders, Mariners and Gonzaga Basketball, traveling, and doing anything and everything in Seattle – he loves this city!
NICK PERNISCO: Nick has been an entrepreneur since the age of 11, when he helped his parents run their hotel in a small coastal town in Argentina, finding new ways to please guests and increase revenues. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to launch a variety of companies, particularly in the media and tech industries. His latest company is TeleBEEM, which focuses on bringing unique digital content to mobile and to the web. Nick is heavily involved in the community, volunteering as a math tutor and serving on several non-profit boards. As a person living with Parkinson’s Disease, Nick is involved in various efforts to help raise awareness and to help find a cure. Nick earned his Bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film, and a Master’s degree in Mass Communications, both from California State University, Northridge. He speaks fluent Spanish, intermediate Italian, and basic Russian, and he holds dual citizenship with Italy. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, practicing yoga, playing tennis, and following international news and politics. Nick lives in Seattle with his wife Rosaline (Foster MBA 2014), and their two cats.
DANIEL WEBB: Daniel is a major gifts officer for the College of the Environment at the University of Washington. He received a BA in Business from Southwestern University, a liberal arts school near Austin, TX, and has six years of experience in higher education fundraising, getting his start in the development office with his alma mater. Daniel serves on the board of directors for the Northwest Development Officers Association. He enjoys hiking, camping, playing soccer and adventuring in the Northwest with his wife and friends.
If you are ready to start thinking about an MBA, we want to talk to you! To speak with an Admissions Counselor, please email email@example.com. To connect with a current student, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, August 26th, current and Evening MBA students met up to watch the Mariners take on the Texas Rangers. This annual, MBAA organized event has been a great way to welcome in the new class of students, allowing the upperclass men and women to reconnect with one another and the newbies. And to add to the awesome-ness of the night, the Mariners won 5-0! Below are some photos from the event.
Lavanya Venkateswar is a rising third year Evening MBA Student and scheduled to graduate this upcoming spring. Beginning her career as a product developer in the food industry, she’s using Foster’s Evening MBA Program to transitioning into a marketing role. Here she reflects upon her experience in Foster’s Evening MBA program.
I started off the Foster MBA program with a very conservative and achievable goal – get a Masters of Business Administration to move ahead in my current career path. I started my career off as a food scientist and after seven years of product development, I found myself wanting more: I wanted to work with consumers, making business decisions on what products to launch and how to make them profitable. I knew that marketing was the right spot for me to do what I wanted. But when I applied for the MBA I only gave myself permission to want to move into management in R&D in the food industry. I didn’t even want to say in my application essay that truly I wanted to move into marketing at the risk of sounding pretentious.
Once I started the Evening MBA program at Foster and started talking to other students in the 2nd and 3rd year of the program, I found out that it was quite common for folks with many years of experience in a particular function to move into other functions within the same industry or other industries. I felt more confident in voicing my desire to move into marketing. I also found that knowing other people had similarly wanted to move into new roles and were successful in their roles gave me confidence that I would do well in a marketing role. Within 9 months of starting the Foster program, I moved into a product manager role in marketing at the current company for which I was working – Continental Mills. During the first 6 months, I learned by leaps and bounds the various skills I needed to be successful in my new position. I also found that the learning experience at school and learning experience at work went hand in hand. There were times when I did a class at school before I had to experience it at work and there were times that I did something at work that made more sense after I learned why it was done a particular way at school.
My classmates were one of the greatest resources in helping me make the decision to move into marketing, as well as after I moved into my new role. Talking to classmates who were in marketing roles helped me understand the different kinds of marketing roles in different industries, the day to day activities of these roles as well as the skills required to be successful in the roles . These conversations helped me determine the skills and knowledge I would need to supplement what I already had, ultimately leading to a plan for what classes and electives I needed to take.
Going to the coffee breaks and weekly happy hours gave me the greatest opportunity to talk to my fellow classmates and bounce ideas off of them. The word “networking” always gave me the jitters. What am I supposed to say? What do I ask? What could I possibly have common with random people? After a year of weekly happy hours, I got it – networking just means talking to people and listening to them…that is something I could do! It got me comfortable with talking to new people about what they did, how they did it, what is common and different between the skills they needed to do what they did and what I did. Also, I got to learn this in the safest environment to practice the skills needed for networking – with friends trying to learn about you and practice their skills as well.
The next step in this discovery process was to engage with the Career Management team. One “ah-ha! moment” for me was when I realized I had access to the entire Foster Alumni in the Seattle area. It was truly humbling to see how the Foster alumni are so helpful and ready to talk to you. Every alumna and alumnus I have reached out to, whether through the Linkedin Alumni group or through introductions from the MBA office and Career Management office, has made time to meet with me or at the very least have a phone conversation. This is a great way to discover and understand different company cultures, different roles and how the Foster MBA helps you be successful in these roles, ultimately determining your interest in it and fit for you. The best way to make the right decision is to have all the facts and the easiest way to get these facts are through people who have done it.
You don’t know what you don’t know – that is something I found to be true time and again in this program. As I have talked to people in different industries and business functions I began discovering roles and opportunities that I had never known existed before. This has intrigued me and has made me think about possible future opportunities. I have given myself permission to not limit myself to a particular role or industry. What I ultimately want is to have transferrable business skills that would be applicable to multiple industries. I hope to continue this discovery process as I get into the final year of the evening MBA program and see where this exciting road takes me! -Lavanya Venkateswar Evening MBA, Class of 2015
On Sunday, July 27, over 100 admitted and current students attended the annual Summer BBQ, sponsored by the MBAA. On top of beautiful summer weather, delicious food and a fantastic on-campus location, the BBQ was a great way for incoming students to get a better sense of the Foster community. Below are some photos from the event.
Name: Dan Le Age: 29 Graduation Year: 2015 Profession: Technology Consultant
What has been your most valuable academic experience at Foster?: By far, the most valuable academic experience for me has been the collaboration and learning I have done with my teams and class cohort. We all come from varying industries and professions where our views and ideas in class can greatly differ, but that’s what adds so much value. I start to think about a discussion or case differently based on the contributions and debates of my peers, that as a result, deepen my perspective as well. From our initial Evaluation Day through all the course we have taken thus far, I feel a real sense of community learning and collaboration.
How are you involved with Foster outside of the classroom?(i.e. Clubs, Groups, Programs, Activities, Committees): I’m involved outside the classroom as an Evening MBA Ambassador to prospective students, as a peer mentor for the Class of 2016, and recently elected as Representative for the Class of 2015 in our graduating year. Additionally, I’ve teamed with classmates to participate in case competitions, offered both through Foster and nationally. Lastly, I can’t forget to mention participating at C4C charity and sports weekend (while rocking an outstanding UW mustache).
What lead you to pursue an MBA?: As a senior consultant growing into a new manager role, I wanted to further develop my leadership and management skills to support my company’s developing business. I also wanted to extend my personal network by building relationships with classmates and future leaders, as well as alumni of the program.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned at Foster?: Sometimes you have to wear a lot of different hats, and sometimes, many at the same time. As working professionals, balance can be challenging, but by keeping perspective and the goals that you set forth for the program and your career, the Evening MBA program at Foster is incredibly rewarding. It also is exactly what you make of it. I’ve experienced personally and through the eyes of my peers that life events can happen, but the support of the Foster community is both amazing and accommodating. It might require you to take lead in certain projects or be a keen listener and contributor in others; however, almost all the experiences I’ve gained through the program have been valuable and applicable to my work and life.
So, what is the C4C thing?: C4C stands for Challenge for Charity. It is a non-profit organization that supports Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Club, and other local charities. The organization helps to develop business leaders that encompass a lifelong commitment to community involvement and social responsibility. Nine MBA programs on the West Coast participate and compete each year in fundraising, volunteerism, and Sports Weekend hosted at Stanford University in hopes of bringing home the Golden Briefcase.
What’s one thing that surprised you about the Foster Evening MBA Program?: In the beginning, it’s easy to get caught up sometimes with a heads down mentality of going to class, getting your work done, and repeating. However, when you talk to your peers, you will be inspired to hear all the amazing things they are doing in the program such as field studies, study tours, resume workshops, and various clubs. It just makes you want to be more involved and get the most out of the program. In the end, you’ll most likely remember all those added opportunities and the people you meet as a result.
What are your plans for summer break?: Having the time off in summer from the program certainly feels like a vacation, so being able to enjoy the perfect Seattle weather has been rewarding enough for me. I plan to spend my weekends hiking, playing outdoor sports, attending weddings, and doing some light traveling to visit friends, etc.
How do you find time to do all of your hobbies and activities? Is balance an option in the Evening MBA program? I certainly knew coming into the program, that it would be a large investment of my time for three solid years; however, I learned that if I managed my work and school commitments correctly and did not procrastinate, I still was able to commit time to friends and family, as well as my favorite hobbies. Balance is definitely achievable if you are truly committed to it. This means having clear communication with all relevant stakeholders, prioritizing, being able to say “no” when you just don’t have another inch on your plate to spare, and perhaps just a little bit less sleep.
Name: Shane Kigin Age: 32 Graduation Year: 2016 Profession: US Navy Pilot
My background: I’ve been in the Navy for eight years since graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006. After two years of helicopter flight training in Florida, I was stationed in San Diego, California. I deployed twice: first in 2010 off the coast of Central America to conduct counter-narcotics trafficking operations, then again in 2012 to Afghanistan part of a provincial reconstruction team. I began working at the University of Washington Naval ROTC in January, 2013.
What has been your most valuable academic experience at Foster?: Establishing a firm foundation in basic financial language and practices, including accounting, finance, economics, and statistical analysis.
What lead you to pursue an MBA?: Faced with decreasing budgets and a “do-more-with-less” mindset from our congressional financiers, the US Navy needs men and women with sound financial understanding. Given that my profession operates in a “move up or move out” promotion system, an MBA will hopefully help me promote within my organization and serve the nation and its Navy in the best way possible.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned at Foster?: I CAN trust other people — the teamwork-centric approach to learning at Foster was daunting, as we’ve all had bad luck with teams in the past… but it turns out our teams are pretty awesome and we produce high-quality products.
Summer Plans?: Between working a full time job and taking an extra MBA class this past quarter, I haven’t been this excited for summer since I was a kid! I’ll still be working, but plan to enjoy plenty of free evenings and weekends of Seattle’s beautiful summer weather. We’ll also head out of town once or twice to introduce our seven-month-old son Oliver to his extended family and to the world.
On May 29th, over 50 current students, faculty, staff and alumni joined Foster’s in-house Sommelier, Smitt Rojanasthien, Evening MBA ’14, for an evening of fine wine education and food pairings. The event was sponsored by the Evening MBAA, with support from the Evening MBA Excellence Fund.
Throughout the evening, guests sipped on five different wines with four different food pairings hand selected by Smitt to provide the perfect balance. This included:
Solletico Prosecco for reception and toast
New Harbor Sauvignon Blanc, paired with Citrus Lime Shrimp
Sagelands Riesling, paired with Spicy Coconut Curry with Naan
Primarius Pinot Noir, paired with Hardwood Smoked King Salmon
Sterling Vintner’s Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with Sirloin Steak Strips
Smitt reminded the crowd that it pairing wines with food is not only about determining between a red or white wine, but selecting the right foods to match the tannins, acidity levels, and sweetness of the wine. Common knowledge suggests that red meats are best paired with red wines because the tannins help break down the fat and balance out the flavor. On the other end of the spectrum, white wines pair well with lighter foods, like salad and fish dishes because of higher acidity levels. One interesting fact that Smitt offered: “The old adage is that red goes with meat and white goes with fish. However, there are multiple things to consider when pairing wine with food. You have to consider different aspects of the dish… fat, acid, saltiness, sweetness, bitterness, and texture. Each element will affect the flavor of the wine, and in turn, the flavor of the food. Feel free to do white wine with meat and red wine with fish… the trick is to find the right wine”
“While there is no technically wrong or right pairing, some matches work better than others. The idea is to have each enhance and complement the other to increase the overall dining and drinking experience. But, at the end of the day, drink what you enjoy.”
Finally, understanding the audience of young business professionals and acknowledging that selecting wine can be a difficult and daunting task, Smitt laid out some tried and true rules for choosing wines during a business dinner.
When in doubt, go with a sparkling wine, especially Champagne. The effervescence and acidity make it great for pairing and cleansing the palate.
A Riesling is great for ethnic food… particularly anything spicy.
The sauce or seasoning of a dish impacts the pairing more than the main ingredient. Keep that in mind. Big flavored sauce? Big flavored wine.
A little about Smitt: Growing up in Wenatchee, Washington, Smitt attended the University of Washington as an undergrad, earning a degree in German Cultural Studies. After college, he focused on the Hospitality Industry and studied wine through The Court of Master Sommeliers, earning his certification as a sommelier. He then decided to go “Double Husky” and entered the Foster School of Business for his MBA. Smitt currently works for Southern Wine & Spirits as the Moët Hennessy Portfolio Manager, partnering with Seattle’s top wine and spirits accounts, focusing on consumer and event marketing, as well as education. Smitt loves to travel, but when he’s in Seattle, he can be found spending time with family and friends, enjoying a glass of champagne.
What has been your most valuable academic experience at Foster?: My classmates and teammates have contributed significantly to my academic experience at Foster. Questions and discussions presented in class continuously focus on “real world” applications of the course subject matter, which helps translate how we can use the skills we’re developing in class while on the job. My teammates have also been extremely supportive over the last three quarters. We are all willing to spend more time on projects and assignments together to ensure we all understand the concepts, and make a point to not move on until we are all comfortable with the subject matter.
How are you involved with Foster outside of the classroom?(i.e. Clubs, Groups, Programs, Activities, Committees): In my first year I haven’t been extremely involved outside of class, but I do try to attend happy hours on Wednesdays and larger events like the C4C Gala. I plan to become more involved in my second year now that I feel I have adjusted to the work-school-life balance.
What lead you to pursue an MBA?: Job security, upward mobility within my career path, increased marketing knowledge and skills (particularly in the area of quantitative analysis), and networking.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned at Foster?: Focus on gaining knowledge, not just getting good grades. I’m dedicating a lot of resources to this program and if all I finish the program with is a 3.6+, not a sustained knowledge of the course material, then I did myself a disservice by not utilizing the resources available to me to increase my skills and knowledge.
Plans for summer break?: I plan to enjoy all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer during the summer and spend more time with friends and family.
Saloni Sonpal is a 2014 graduate from Foster’s Evening MBA Program. She has her B.E. in Information Technology from the University of Mumbai and an M.S. in Computer Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She has been a Software Development Engineer at Microsoft for the past 7 years. Below is a post that she shared with her social network on graduation day.
Some things that will stick with me after the nine quarters of Foster’s Evening MBA program:
Debits and Credits
Incentives change behavior
Positive NPV projects
4Ps and 3Cs
Bottlenecks, Kanban and Kaizen Bursts
GDP and volatility
Conjoint and bundles
Listen to your customer
What’s your BATNA?
Segregate gains, aggregate losses
Be Lean and Agile!
Less is more.
Oh wait, did I mention the awesome people, life-changing experiences and the endless fun?! That stuck more than anything else!