Category Archives: Experiences

Fostering Friendship

Foster Evening MBA students spend a considerable amount of time together. Rigorous classes and demanding team projects keep them busy throughout the academic year. Friendships develop organically as students share experiences with each other and bond. Many students remain close friends long after earning their Foster MBA.

Meredith Heestand and Nicholas Wilton proudly point to their name tags at the Admitted Student Happy Hour.
Meredith Heestand and Nicholas Wilton proudly point to their name tags at last year’s Admitted Student Happy Hour.
Now second year Evening MBA students, Meredith Heestand and Nicholas Wilton proudly point to their official Foster name tags.
Now second-year Evening MBA students, Meredith Heestand and Nicholas Wilton proudly point to their official Foster MBA name tags.

Meredith Heestand and Nicholas Wilton, members of the Class of 2017, describe how their friendship began and evolved through the Evening MBA Program. In addition to their academic responsibilities at Foster, they both maintain several professional and extracurricular activities. Meredith is a Research Associate at Theraclone Sciences and an Instructor at Flywheel Sports. Nicholas is  the Chief Revenue Officer at WAGmob.

How did you become friends?

Meredith Heestand, Evening MBA Class of 2017
Meredith Heestand, Evening MBA Class of 2017

Meredith: Nick and I met on Evaluation Day 2014 when we were both vying for the same scone at the breakfast buffet. (Ok, maybe not the same scone.) But I was certainly nervous for Evaluation Day and thought “Hey, this guy looks friendly,” and introduced myself. It turned out that we had several mutual friends and bonded over these small-world connections. I was beyond ecstatic to see Nick again at the Admitted Student Happy Hour. From then on we kept in touch and have become good friends. Midway through the year, I even recruited Nick to join a non-profit board with me! Despite his weird taste in sports (hockey?), he’s one of the best all-around guys you’ll meet.

Nicholas Wilton, Evening MBA Class of 2017
Nicholas Wilton, Evening MBA Class of 2017

Nick: On Evaluation Day, we arrived at about the same time. We started a conversation over breakfast and found out we had several mutual friends from different circles, but had never met.

What makes Evening MBA friendships unique?

Meredith: We all share similar crazy schedules and have empathy for one another. We know what everyone is experiencing and are able to push each other, but give grace when needed. And an Evening MBA friend can potentially turn into your best friend and future business partner.

Nick: While they often start like most friendships, it’s interesting how many opportunities Foster friendships have opened up. I’ve met a lot of great people, joined volunteer organizations, tried new group fitness classes, had many helpful informational interviews, and met quite a few classmates for a coffee or a beer to share insights. There is a lot of passion, intelligence, and willingness to explore new ideas in this program and I absolutely love it.

Why do you think Evening MBA students go out of their way to plan social events together, even outside of the academic year?

Meredith: Evening MBA students need a social outlet to get to know the passions of their peers outside of the classroom. And just to have fun without the stress of school!

Nick: We’re a social bunch. We are sharing an experience that will be life-changing. This experience extends well beyond the classroom, and I think that it’s pretty well-understood that the bonds we are building now will be a huge portion of the ROI of this program.

What else would you like to share about your friendship?

Meredith: Nick joined the Friends of the Children Ambassador Board earlier this year which has been a great way to interact in a professional (and fun) setting outside the classroom. We had some board member turnover and Nick seemed like the perfect fit after expressing interest in becoming involved in education within the Seattle community.

Nick: Meredith has energy, enthusiasm, and intelligence like few people I’ve ever met. I sincerely admire how much she cheerfully has on her plate, and the amount of effort she applies to not only doing it, but DOING it! (You should try taking one of her early morning spin classes… no lack of enthusiasm!) We talked about the organization for which she is an Ambassador Board member (Friends of the Children Seattle) on Evaluation Day, and I was inspired. We continued to talk about it, and a few months later I joined her on the board. It’s been a great experience, and it’s been rewarding to contribute to a great organization and grow as a leader.

Meredith and Nicholas pose for a picture at the same place where they celebrated admission to Foster's Evening MBA Program.
Meredith and Nick pose for a picture at the same place where they celebrated admission to Foster’s Evening MBA Program.

Meredith and Nick are looking forward to their second year of the Evening MBA Program this fall.

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


This post was originally posted on October 18, 2013 on the Foster Blog. The next Evening MBA Case Competition for the Class of 2016 will be on Saturday, September 20, 2014.

The Evening MBA Program recently hosted its first ever case competition for the second-year Evening MBA students. The competition served as an opportunity for students to apply what they learned in their first-year core classes toward a simulated business case. This year’s case was developed by Sadie Raney, a third-year Evening MBA student. The winning team, comprised of Garin Wedeking, Abhi Thinesh Rathinavelu, Michael Pamphlet, Brad Waidelich and Derek Zahajko, has shared what helped them succeed.Case Competition Winners

What did you learn from the competition? This felt like a round of “speed-dating” with our new group. It gave us an opportunity in a week’s time to identify team members’ strengths and quickly discover how to best work together. The best trait we share is that none of us needs to be in charge for any reason other than to get the project done. We have quickly learned how to let each other take the reins, as well as to give each other space and time at one’s discretion with the understanding that everyone is overbooked. It’s a fact of grad school.

What made your team successful? We set early expectations of what we were going to do, and then each executed on our commitments. Those expectations were not equal in work load, but that didn’t matter. When you start keeping score you make room for excuses. To quote a teammate “All (five) of us should be pulling 25%.” The trick is actually doing that.

How could you apply what you learned in the competition to your job? Since the case intentionally provided little detail, it forced our team to quickly and rationally make assumptions and move forward. We could have chosen to jump down rabbit holes in order to make real-world parallels, but we didn’t think that would create a better product in the end. This parallels the real-world in that sometimes time-sensitive situations or opportunities arise where rapid action is required and time is not available to acquire more data or more data may simply not exist.

Did it teach you to think about business issues in a different way? Often times we have the inclination to think there is only one right answer. In this case, all three options could have been viable options for the company. It came down to the rationality behind the option and ultimately the ability to execute on the idea within the time frame. Parfait est l’ennemi du bon.


Bronze Never Looked So Good

-By Garin Wedeking

A little about the NSCC:

This was the first year of the international case competition in Vancouver, BC hosted by NSCC. It has and MBA and an undergraduate component. The conference is also held in tandem with the competition over the weekend. The grand prize for first place was a cash purse and first round interviews with Deloitte. The conference is full over networking opportunities, dinners and luncheons, and happy hours.

Our team, Osprey Consulting consisted of Dan Le, Connor Kilpatric, Jason Roberts and myself. We submitted a slide deck for the first round regarding a turnaround strategy for Blackberry, and subsequently were invited to the main event in Vancouver.

It’s a pretty big deal to get accepted to the second round of an international case competition! We had some time to get coaching from Dan Poston and others about what it would be like to go through with this experience. We had all completed the Foster case competition at the beginning of the year, but this was different. This was outside our walls, and we were representing Foster and the UW at large. We had to bring it, and bring it we did. The four of us headed up to the great snowy north on Thursday night. The competition started early on Friday, so we got our beauty sleep and got started right.

The first round was a five-hour case revolving around a BC based healthcare company with several locations and how they should approach the future of their business. We knocked it out of the park!… or at least we think we did. One way or another, we advanced.

The next round was a 20-hour case, revolving around the BC chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which went over night and into the next day. Some teams stayed up, probably mostly the undergraduates. A strategic play on our part was to shut the laptops at midnight, share a round of gin and tonics, and head to bed. We woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to bring home the gold. We submitted our slide deck and presented with aplomb.

We thought that this was the last round and felt good about our performance. We all gathered into a room toward the end of the day expecting to hear who won, but it turns out that the top two teams would be competing in a lightning-round death-match and be presenting to the main judges (who were also the representatives from consulting companies including Deloitte) as well as the rest of all the competitors and delegates for the weekend.

This was it. The end. Victory was within sight.

We went first. We did well, faltering on only a few details when we were put to intense scrutiny by the judges during the question round. We sat down, very happy with our performance.

As we sat ourselves, it hit us one by one. If we didn’t get first place, then we actually got last. No steak dinner. No cocktail hour. No networking or workshops or seminars. And no purse, no interviews – Nothing.

We had whittled our time in Vancouver at this year’s NSCC down to nub and the payoff all rested on this.

The next team came on stage, they presented, upon which I will recuse myself from commenting, they sat as well. Some “good lucks” and “good jobs” were exchanged between the two with meaning, but with trepidation. No one knew what to expect.

The judges left the room… they came back… they said things like “razor thin difference,” “everyone did great,” and other such pleasantries, but the four of us and the four of them had no breath to breathe.

Say, it. Say it out loud. Osprey consulting. Say it. Say University of Washington.

“Northern Consulting from University of Manitoba Asper School of Business!”

– Second.


…and I would do it again in a heart beat.