Tag Archives: balance

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.

Student Spotlight: Dan Le ’15

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.

On the flight down to C4C. Look closely. Yes, that's a "UW" carved into his mustache
On the flight down to C4C. Look closely. Yes, that’s a “UW” carved into his mustache

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.

Peer Mentors at the annual Edward Fritzky Leadership Dinner
Peer Mentors at the annual Edward Fritzky Leadership Dinner
Dan Le's 2nd year study team, "Foster's Six Pack", celebrating the end of 2nd year at Happy Hour
Dan Le’s 2nd year study team, “Foster’s Six Pack”, celebrating the end of 2nd year at Happy Hour
The Class Representatives for 2015 and 2016 celebrating a successfully thrown on-campus networking happy hour after class.
The Class Representatives for 2015 and 2016 celebrating a successfully thrown on-campus networking happy hour after class.
Dan Le celebrating UW's 3rd Place finish at Dodgeball
Dan Le celebrating UW’s 3rd Place finish at Dodgeball