Category Archives: Experiences

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

PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF GOOD

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.

Last…

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