Category Archives: Student Life

China Study Tour: Evening MBA Students explore business in China

A group of Evening MBA students stop to have drinks above Shanghai's famous Bund.
A group of Evening MBA students stop to have drinks above Shanghai’s famous Bund.

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 (Eve 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.

Sampling local cuisine on the China Study Tour
Sampling local cuisine on the China Study Tour

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.

Ryan and Michaela visit Beijing's Forbidden City
Ryan Osher, Evening MBA 2016, poses with his fiancé, Michaela Byrne, Evening MBA 2017, outside the Forbidden City

The Three Things That Stand Out

Daniel rooting on the Seattle Sounder's at CenturyLink Field.
Daniel rooting on the Seattle Sounder’s at CenturyLink Field.

Daniel Webb recounts the three things that stood out to him upon completing his first quarter as an Evening MBA Student.

Looking back at the first quarter of business school, three things stand out: 1) I really like going to class, 2) I love my study team and 3) the resources Foster provides from academic, to career management, to extracurricular activities are outstanding.

Looking forward to class…

During undergrad, I enjoyed classes to some degree but really focused my energy on activities outside of class. Since starting the Foster Evening MBA, I have been massively impressed with the quality of each and every class. Because we are all working during the day, our time is obviously very limited. This makes time in class super important. Even when we’ve had a long day and are beat by the time class starts, everyone is engaged in the class discussion. The faculty are fantastic. People ask good questions and its clear that everyone really wants to understand the content. Not to mention, each student brings a different perspective and work experience to the course content. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next quarter brings.

My team rocks…

During the recruitment process, staff and students shared that study teams and group assignments were an important part of the learning process at Foster. I enjoy working with groups so was happy to hear this but I couldn’t have imagined how great my team would be! We come from very different backgrounds with different skillsets and have meshed perfectly over the last few months. My team is a study resource. It’s a close-knit support network for getting through the tough parts of the quarter and it now includes some of my closest friends! 

Daniel Webb and his team run in the Foster Fun Run.
Daniel Webb (right) and his 1st year team run in the Foster Fun Run.

Sign me up… 

As many of us were looking into to attending Foster, we also heard that there were plenty of extracurricular opportunities to take part in. It turns out, this aspect of the program is way above and beyond what I envisioned and I haven’t yet begun to tap into this set of resources. I’m very excited about taking part in the mentor program next quarter. The incredible quality of the list of Foster alumni and friends who signed up to mentor us highlights the huge upside this program brings. I’m also looking forward to getting more involved with clubs and other non-class activities like lectures, career management sessions, etc.

One down, eight to go!  

Lessons in teamwork

Meredith is a Molecular Biologist in Seattle.
Meredith is a Molecular Biologist in Seattle.

Meredith Heestand just finished her first quarter of the Evening MBA Program. Below she discusses what she learned about teamwork and how she’s excited that this is only the  beginning.

 

Teamwork.

It’s not always easy, but the reward is worth the work.

You might think that this point is fairly obvious. Come on, it’s an MBA program! But for a molecular biologist that mostly works independently and has played individual sports her entire life, let’s just say the learning curve was rather steep.

Team 7 strikes a pose after finishing the Foster Fun Run 5K.
Team 7 strikes a pose after finishing the Foster Fun Run 5K. (L to R) Meredith, Mariko, Ray, and Chris. Not pictured Cary.

Thankfully, my team: 7, aka “Seventh Inning Stretchers” (named for our shared love of music and sports), have been unconditionally patient and encouraging since day one. Looking back, I keep wondering how on earth I got so lucky to be chosen as a member of this group of intelligent, witty, and hard-working individuals who were even game to do awkward yoga poses in front of our entire class two days after meeting each other.

I also remember how scary the thought of relying on other people for certain projects and assignments was. What if someone didn’t pull his or her weight? What if someone just dropped the ball and didn’t show up to a team meeting? Oh, the horror!

Well, honestly, these things happen. LIFE happens. And that is why you have a team. There is an imbued sense of reciprocity that if paired with the right people happens pretty organically. Being newbies to the whole MBA thing, many of us overscheduled our lives in the beginning, thinking this program was something we would just fit into the mix. WRONG. But you have to accommodate. You have learn to be a willow that bends but does not crack in what feels at times like the biggest windstorm you’ve ever endured.

New beginnings are immense times of change and my teammates were there for each other through it all. At times when people get sick or are out of town, you have to improvise. Getting a group of five adults that work full time and have family/life obligations together can sometimes be a challenge likened to herding cats. Thankfully, with Skype and shared Google Docs (and snacks) we made it work!

But your team is not just there to catch you when life runs its crazy course. They push you to think outside the box in new ways. I surely would still be scratching my head about economics if it weren’t for outside of class discussions on approaches to homework. Even if the only reason I showed up in the first place was for the snacks. Good thing I now realize incentives change behavior…

Teamwork is also about celebrating your successes. One of the best moments of the quarter came right after finishing our Economics final where I found myself singing karaoke alongside my class of 2017 team and the one and only Professor Ed Rice. We work hard but play harder!

The Class of 2017 singing karaoke with Prof. Ed Rice at Dante’s to celebrate the end to their first quarter.
The Class of 2017 singing karaoke with Prof. Ed Rice at Dante’s to celebrate the end to their first quarter.

To sum it all up, it feels like I just finished the first quarter of the rest of my life, not just the next three years. My Team 7 comrades and the entire evening class of 2017 have showed me the enduring power that good teams hold.

And when I say the work is worth it?

Let’s just say I’m exhausted but I can’t stop smiling.

Bring it on, winter quarter!

Class of 2017 ladies out for a night on the town after making it through our first midterms!
Class of 2017 ladies out for a night on the town after making it through our first midterms!

1st quarter reflections

Reflections on my first quarter
By Nick Pernisco

As the days shorten and we head into the holiday break, I think that now is a good time to reflect back on my first quarter as an Evening MBA student at Foster. To say that I’ve been challenged in new and interesting ways would be an understatement. I hadn’t been in a degree program in over 10 years and it took some time to adjust, but with the finish line in sight I can say without a doubt that I’ve had an incredible time.

Here are some of the things I learned this quarter.

    • Ambiguity is the order of the day. As with life, things are not always clear cut and tidy in business. There’s almost never one right solution or approach, and sometimes you need to make decisions without having all of the relevant information. Our first quarter classes really delivered this message – to succeed, get comfortable with not having all of the answers.
    • There’s no “I” in team. Most everything we do is team based – even when you’re not working on a team assignment you study as a team. Reaching consensus in a group of smart and experienced people can be a really difficult task, but my team has been amazing – Aaron, Darius, Pete’ and Bing are the best teammates I could ask for. In fact, most of my classmates love their team as much as I do. We build on each other’s strengths and are better as a team than alone.
    • Leading in partnership. My classmates elected me and my classmate Tyson as class representatives, and we’ve had a blast working together to make the MBA experience as amazing as it can be. Two people with different ideas but with a common goal can work together, and thrive.
Nick Pernisco poses with a group of first year students during a Wednesday night Happy Hour
Nick Pernisco poses with a group of first year students during a Wednesday night Happy Hour
  • Socializing – it’s what’s for dinner. Academics is only about 50% of the MBA. The other 50% is socializing with classmates, alumni, and business leaders. My classmates are going to be my primary professional network for my entire career, and I love getting to know everyone. Happy hours every week, class-sponsored sports, monthly TGs, random trips to the bar after a team meeting, even a scavenger hunt – all necessary if you want to maximize your experience.
  • You get what you give. If you’re just there for the piece of paper you get in three years, you’re going to miss out on a lot. The more effort, time, and energy you put into the experience, the more you’ll get out of the program. I made it a point to attend every career management workshop (although I’m not looking for a job), go to as many networking events as possible, join the clubs that looked the most interesting, and connect with people in other classes and programs. The more you put yourself out there, the higher the chances of having a serendipitous encounter that just may change your life.

And here is some advice I received from upperclassman and which I think helped immensely.

  • Be sure to make time for yourself. Between family, school, and work, you need to find time to just turn off your brain. Don’t feel guilty taking a weeknight to just veg in front of the TV or play a board game. You’ve earned it.
  • Don’t take it so seriously. We are all committed and want to do well, but don’t lose perspective – it’s just school. This is where you can make mistakes with minimal consequences. One low score won’t make or break you. Stop yourself once in a while and make sure you’re enjoying yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to keep your options open. There are so many opportunities in the program, if you close yourself off to new experiences you are selling yourself short. I came in laser-focused on entrepreneurship and global business, and though that’s still my focus I also never thought I’d actually like accounting. I’m also looking forward to learning more about careers in consulting and marketing.

Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience. Yes, I’m exhausted and look forward to the winter break, but I’m also excited about what awaits us in winter quarter.

Nick Pernisco, second to left, and his first year study team meet during the Orientation Boat Cruise.
Nick Pernisco, second to left, and his first year study team meet during the Orientation Boat Cruise.

Foster Evening MBA students give back: a review of Fall Quarter efforts

Briana Rubens is a 2nd year student and VP for Community Outreach on the Evening MBAA. Below, she recaps the various ways in which Foster Evening MBA Students gave back to the community during Fall Quarter.

The Foster Evening MBA Program has been busy this past quarter with a wide variety of Challenge for Charity events.

To provide a little background, Challenge for Charity (C4C) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that draws on the talents, energy, and resources of MBA students from the top West Coast business schools to support Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other family-related local charities. The purpose of the organization is to develop business leaders with a lifelong commitment to community involvement and social responsibility. Since C4C’s inception in 1984, the students of Foster have volunteered more than 19,000 hours and raised more than $1,000,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County, Special Olympics Washington (SOWA) and the University Food Bank.   This year’s challenge promises to once again be filled with epic fundraising, social, volunteer, and athletic events in pursuit of the coveted ‘Golden Briefcase.’

Participants in the 3rd annual Foster Fun Run
Before the race, a group of students pose for a picture.
The finish line at the Foster Fun Run
A busy finish line at the Foster Fun Run

We started off the school year with our annual Foster C4C 5k Fun Run on October 11th, and were thrilled to have over 200 participants this year as we kicked off our run at Paccar Hall!  The run was a great opportunity for students from the daytime and evening MBA programs, family and friends to come together and support our Challenge for Charity efforts. The race kicked off at 9am, and participants were rewarded at the finish line with treats provided by Honest Tea, ClifBar, Naked Juice and Apex Fun Run. Orion Entertainment was also on-site to play some motivational tunes to energize the runners, and we capped off the event by awarding metals and prizes from Super Jock ‘n Jill and Mod Pizza to our top three women and top three men runners. The event helped raise over $8,000 for our Challenge for Charity efforts.

Evening MBA Students at the Foster Fun Run
Foster Evening MBA Students pose for a photo at the end of the Foster Fun Run.

November’s TG (Thank Goodness it’s Friday) Event benefitted C4C through a raffle for fun prizes ranging from lunch with our favorite professor to choosing how a guy’s facial hair should look (since many were participating in Movember) This TG was Hoedown themed, and everyone decked out in great western wear. At our TGs Foster MBA students, family and friends are able to get together and celebrate the end of the week and spend time outside of the classroom to get to know each other.

Foster Gives Back Blog Post 6 Evening MBA students recently participated in the first Service Day of the school year.  We assisted St. Jude with its annual Give Thanks Walk that took place at Seattle Center on November 22nd. Armed with coffee and energetic cheers to share with participants, we arrived at Seattle Center at 7:00am and headed off to our stations on the race course. It was extremely motivating to see so many family members and friends of those who have benefitted from St. Jude’s services and support out for the walk, and many shared their appreciation for our cheering and support on the race course.

Foster Evening Students and Alumni give back!
Foster Evening Students and Alumni give back!

There is a lot more in store during Winter Quarter – including the annual C4C auction and the Polar Plunge, so stay tuned!

#OneFoster Event Recap

On September 28th, I participated in the #OneFoster Scavenger Hunt, an event organized by the Evening MBAA to bring together students from every year under the theme of unity. I was teamed up with fellow 2017, Michael, two 2016s, Cara and Taka, and 2015s, Lisa and Aaron. We called ourselves the OneFosterSix, and together we ran around campus collecting photos of ourselves in front of UW landmarks.

OneFosterSix team flexes their muscles at the IMA
OneFosterSix team flexes their muscles at the IMA

In just over an hour and a half, we went from Paccar Hall to the IMA and Husky Stadium, then strolled through U District before finally heading back to campus. Between picking up items, we chatted about our backgrounds, studies, and goals for the future. We also laughed a lot! By the end, we were exhausted (at least I was!), so we turned in our scavenger list and ate delicious tacos while the scores were being tallied.

In the end, we didn’t win the scavenger hunt – that honor went to the awesome team dressed as inmates, with best dressed going to the Foster Ninjas – but I wouldn’t say we lost either. I got to know my classmate a little better, and I made four new friends along the way. The MBAA did a great job of organizing such an intricate event, and I’m so happy they did. Between getting accustomed to being back in school and juggling work, I haven’t had many opportunities to meet students in other classes. This event helped start the process, and it made me even prouder to be a part of Foster!

These six teammates made up the OneFosterSix
OneFosterSix makes a human pyramid on the Quad

– by Nick Pernisco

Evening MBAA: Take me out to the ballgame

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.

Evening students at the Mariners game
An Evening selfie by attendees of the Mariners Game
Evening students at the Mariners game
More selfie action
Evening students at the Mariners game
Evening students at the Mariners game

Summer BBQ

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.

Summer BBQ 2014
Diane and Larry, VPs of Membership, (wo)man the grill to keep the brats hot
Summer BBQ 2014
MBAA President Adam Rubens making announcements.
Summer BBQ 2014
Incoming and current students hanging out at the summer BBQ
Summer BBQ 2014
Summer BBQ 2014
Summer BBQ 2014
Summer BBQ 2014
Summer BBQ 2014
Tents provide protection from the summer heat
Summer BBQ 2014
Announcements during the MBAA Summer BBQ
Summer BBQ 2014
Graham and Naila taking time for a selfie at the Summer BBQ

Winetasting for Professionals

Smitt Rojanasthien, Class of 2014, explains the art and science of wine tasting
Smitt Rojanasthien, Class of 2014, explains the art and science of wine tasting

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
Students and staff at the Winetasting for Professionals event
Students and staff at the Winetasting for Professionals event

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.

2013 Evening Alumni at the Winetasting for Professionals event
2013 Evening Alumni at the Winetasting for Professionals event
  1. When in doubt, go with a sparkling wine, especially Champagne. The effervescence and acidity make it great for pairing and cleansing the palate.
  2. A Riesling is great for ethnic food… particularly anything spicy.
  3. 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.
Smitt Rojanasthien, Sommelier and Evening MBA Class of 2014
Smitt Rojanasthien, Sommelier and Evening MBA Class of 2014

 

 

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.

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Selfie of attendees at the Winetasting for Professionals event
Selfie of attendees at the Winetasting for Professionals event
Smitt Rojanasthien (left) with two attendees at the Winetasting for Professionals event
Attendees at the Winetasting for Professionals event
Attendees at the Winetasting for Professionals event
Attendees at the Winetasting for Professionals event

Graduation 2014: a short summary of 3 years

Saloni Sonpal, Evening MBA Class of 2014
Saloni Sonpal, Evening MBA Class of 2014

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
  • Statistical significance
  • Sunk Costs
  • 4Ps and 3Cs
  • Leadership
  • Bottlenecks, Kanban and Kaizen Bursts
  • Decision Trees
  • Value Prop
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • GDP and volatility
  • Conjoint and bundles
  • Listen to your customer
  • What’s your BATNA?
  • It depends…
  • 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!

#Graduation2014 #EveningMBA2014 #UWFoster

MBA Graduation Collage Saloni