Tag Archives: Leadership

Rita Jabbouri: How to THRIVE in the Evening MBA Program

Incoming students often ask what they should do to prepare for the Evening MBA Program, and how to best navigate the three years of the curriculum while working full-time and balancing other competing priorities. Rita Jabbouri, Class of 2017 alumna, shares her top 10 tips to thrive in the Foster Evening MBA.

Rita Jabbouri, Evening MBA Class of 2017
Rita Jabbouri, Evening MBA Class of 2017

Rita Jabbouri is in Airplane Product Development Finance at Boeing where she is a trusted business partner to chief engineers, program leaders, and directors. When she’s not dreaming about the future of aerospace, she loves to run, hike, cook healthy meals from scratch, read articles from a variety of sources to satisfy her curiosity on a range of different topics, and do anything that involves making memories with loved ones. Rita spends a considerable amount of time with Foster classmates and alumni who have become close friends.

Here are my top 10 tips for successfully navigating the Foster Evening MBA. A huge thank you to classmates, professors, fellow alumni, and mentors who taught me so much over the course of the program!

10. What to read during the program (besides what’s required). If you read nothing else, make sure to review the Weekly Newsletters that the Program Office sends to all evening students. This will have the latest updates on academics and extracurricular activities and will keep you on top of administrative items such as managing your elective courses. Second, sign up for a journal subscription so you can stay up to date on business news. As a student, you get a discount through the University of Washington for a Wall Street Journal subscription, for example. Professors will often bring in news articles that apply to the course to discuss in class, and they invite students to do the same. It will help reinforce what you learn in the classroom.

Rita with her Case Competition team
Rita with her Case Competition team

9. Take time to slow down. The next three years of your life will be extremely busy. It’s important to take time to rest, to reflect, and to remind yourself why you started this program in the first place. Do whatever keeps your mind sharp and helps you manage stress. For me, it was jogging. Although I couldn’t do it as often as I would like with how crazy my schedule got, I would fit in 20-minute workouts that made a world of difference in my energy level and how alert I was in class and team meetings. Do it for you! You owe it to yourself to get the most of out of this program, and you won’t be able to do that if you don’t take care of yourself first. The basics apply more than ever during these three years- get at least seven hours of sleep per night, drink lots of water, and make sure to eat three meals a day. You would be surprised how easy it is to skip one because of back to back commitments. You will likely develop a new appreciation for Jimmy John’s sandwiches delivered directly to your classroom on those especially busy days.

Hiking with fellow Huskies
Hiking with fellow Huskies

8. Plan on everything taking at least a half hour longer than expected. Building in buffers in the second year of the program was a lifesaver for me. Whether it’s meetings running over, traffic being …well…worse than usual, parking being full, etc., you’ll save yourself a lot of worrying if you budget at least 30-minute buffers in between your various commitments. And if everything goes as planned, you’ll get to your next class, team meeting, informational interview, academic advising session, MBA Association meeting- you name it- early and can review content or grab a coffee and catch up with a classmate prior. Pat yourself on the back! You’re running your day, not the other way around.

Rita presenting to VCs, judges, entrepreneurs, and community leaders in the final round of the UW Business Plan Competition
Rita presenting to VCs, judges, entrepreneurs, and community leaders in the final round of the UW Business Plan Competition

7. Pencil in family and friend dates at least a month in advance. Expect busy weekends and plan accordingly. This might seem a little silly at first, but talk to any current students or alumni and they will most likely agree. It’s tough to schedule only a week in advance- not to mention on the spot- because your calendar will fill up quickly with MBA-related commitments, whether they’re required or you sign up for them. Life doesn’t stop during the MBA- there will be numerous engagements, weddings, newborns, career changes, etc. You will start to notice your friendship and classmate circles overlapping and this community will be your support system throughout the program.

Attempting a mid-air shot with friends at The Color Run!
Attempting a mid-air shot with friends at The Color Run!

6. Take advantage of the experiential learning opportunities. Step outside your comfort zone. There are so many Experiential Learning opportunities available to you throughout your three years at Foster. Whether it’s a field study, independent study, an internship, the Business Plan Competition, case competitions, study tours, Mentor Program, consulting project with a nonprofit, leadership experience via the MBA Association—each of these will add to your education in a way no book or lecture ever can. When you apply what you learn by doing it, that’s when it truly starts to sink in. Not sure where to start? Talk to Jean Gekler and Sally Templeton in MBA Career Management, Connie Bourassa-Shaw and Amy Sallin at the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, or Jennifer Bauermeister at the MBA Strategic Consulting Program. They love working with students and they will connect you to contacts who can help you reach your goals.

Rita with Business Plan Competition (BPC) partner and classmate Ellyce Shulman. As first-year MBA students, they placed 4th out of 103 teams in the BPC.

5. Be intentional. This applies to your daily routine, as well as the three-year outlook.

Daily Routine: When do you do your best work? For me, it’s in the morning- before emails, work, and before the ubiquitously connected world we live in starts to pull you in different directions. Pick one or two things you want to accomplish and commit to those before you answer any emails. Whether it’s reviewing a tough lecture, getting a heavy reading done, or researching your next career move, plan your toughest work when you are most alert.

Three-year Outlook: Be intentional in goal-setting for each of the three years. How to get started? Meet with Kara Fichthorn, the Evening MBA Director of Student Affairs. I recommend at least once a year, although I can tell you I met with staff a lot more often than that. The staff members at Foster are so helpful and they want to see you succeed. Get to know them, share your goals, and they will help you focus your energy and prioritize your time at Foster to achieve what you set out to accomplish each of the three years.

Snacks- the usual centerpiece at Foster MBA team meetings
Snacks- the usual centerpiece at Foster MBA team meetings

4. Be a “resource hog.” I can’t take credit for this one- Professor Mark Westerfield is known for this phrase, advice he shared with us at eLead. There are so many opportunities, contacts, and resources available at Foster- take advantage of as many as you can. If your team is struggling with a particular topic in a lecture, don’t hesitate to ask your questions in class. The rest of your classmates will benefit from the discussion. If you’re still struggling on a topic after working through it with your team, reach out to your professor to set up some one-on-one time to walk through your questions. Foster professors are so passionate about what they do, and they really are experts in their field- having done the research and the work in the real world that informs their teaching. They are in the business of creating futures: they want to help and are there for you when you need them.

Professor Ed Rice (Business Economics and Finance) never disappoints with his jokes
Never a dull moment with Professor Ed Rice (Business Economics and Finance)

3. Get involved. Go to Wednesday night happy hour, join a club, run for a position with the MBA Association, become a Peer Mentor, volunteer to help with Challenge for Charity, or simply spend time with classmates outside of class. Your experience will be that much more enjoyable if you get involved and make an effort to get to know the talented people around you. The network you build at Foster is priceless both during and after the program. And it goes without saying that authenticity is critical: yes, be yourself. You are supposed to be part of this program- you were selected amongst a pool of talented individuals. Be confident in your strengths and open about what you would like to improve. Your classmates can’t help you if you’re not honest with yourself first and foremost.

Rita with her #OneFoster Scavenger Hunt team!
Rita with her #OneFoster Scavenger Hunt team!

2. Invest in your teams. This is important throughout the program, but especially so in your first year as you’re still getting to know your class. Your teammates will likely become some of your best friends- your strengths and weaknesses will complement each other and you will help each other get through the most challenging parts of the program, together. Ask yourself how you can help your teammates. What do you bring to the table that is different from everyone else? And, more importantly, how will you leave Foster better than you found it?

Rita's first year team at the annual Foster Fun Run. As the MBA Association VP of Community Outreach, Rita led the planning of the Foster Fun Run benefiting Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs.
Rita’s first-year team at the 4th annual Foster Fun Run. As the MBA Association VP of Community Outreach, Rita led the planning of the event, benefiting Special Olympics and Boys & Girls Clubs.

1. Remember your “why.” What was the reason you wanted to get your MBA at Foster? Write it down now. You’ll want to revisit it often to keep yourself grounded and focused. That and your teammates will help you not only survive in the program, but THRIVE in it. Don’t jump into everything because you don’t want to miss out, but don’t sit on the sidelines either your first year to “scope things out.” How do you choose where to invest your time? That brings us back to your why. This will probably evolve over your time at Foster. There won’t be an “aha” moment that will tell you exactly what you should be doing. But the culmination of the coursework, workshops you attend, people you meet, skillsets you develop, and experiences you have will point you in the right direction for you post-MBA.

Rita with her Peer Mentees at the annual Frosters MBA event
Rita with her Peer Mentees at the annual Frosters event

The Foster Evening MBA Program isn’t for the faint of heart. Getting into the program says a lot about who you are. Whether you aspire to change up, move up, or start up, embrace this opportunity! Challenge yourself, invest in your classmates, focus on shared success, and have fun along the way. Before you  know it, you’ll be a master at navigating ambiguous business problems and you’ll have a massive network to tap into. Best of luck and enjoy the program!

Follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram & Twitter, and like us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things Foster Evening MBA.

Wondering if the Foster Evening MBA Program is the right fit for you? To make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office, call 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622, or email us at mba@uw.edu.

Get to know us!  Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Admissions Team and check out our upcoming Evening MBA Admissions Events.

Peer Mentors Welcome Incoming Class of 2019

Evening MBA Class of 2018 Peer Mentors
Evening MBA Class of 2018 Peer Mentors already having a blast developing into leaders for the incoming Class of 2019

Fall Quarter is around the corner, but the incoming Class of 2019 is not the only one attending orientation events and prepping for the academic year. Selected members of the Class of 2018 are preparing for the arrival of the new class via the Evening MBA Peer Mentor Program. A recent Saturday workshop armed Peer Mentors with the tools and resources that will empower them to guide the incoming class throughout their first year.

Sharing and learning from each other at the Peer Mentor Workshop
Sharing and learning from each other at the Peer Mentor Workshop

The Peer Mentor Program develops in students the confidence to lead their peers and organically facilitates authentic connections even before the academic year begins. Mentors attend orientation events such as ePRIME and continue to be part of the first year experience as they coach their peers to help them get the most out of their time in the Evening MBA Program. They are each assigned a first-year team of 5-6 students and meet regularly with their mentees, as a team and one-on-one. Having just finished their first year, the Class of 2018 Peer Mentors are in a prime position to provide advice to their peers who are about to embark on the same challenge.

Third-year evening students who served as Peer Mentors the prior academic year share about their experience. Collaboration is intertwined in everything we do at Foster.
Third-year evening students who served as Peer Mentors the prior academic year share about their experience. Collaboration is ingrained in everything we do at Foster.

A strong sense of community drives the now second-year students to give back just as they benefited from the guidance and support of their peer mentors. Upperclassmen gain leadership experience, new students receive the guidance and coaching they need to be successful as they transition back into the academic world, and the Foster Evening MBA network continues to expand and prosper.

Evening MBA Class of 2018 Peer Mentors
Evening MBA Class of 2018 Peer Mentors

Looking to develop your leadership skills? Wondering if the Foster Evening MBA Program is the right fit for you? To make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office, call 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622, or email us at mba@uw.edu.

Follow FosterEveMBA on Instagram and like us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things Foster Evening MBA.

2014-15 MBAA Board President passes the torch to next year’s MBAA Board

Adam Rubens, always representing Foster and c4c, is bottling wine at a winery in Leavenworth.
Adam Rubens, always representing Foster and c4c, is bottling wine at a winery in Leavenworth.

Each year, the outgoing MBAA President offers a “State of the Program” at the conclusion of his or her tenure. This year’s president, Adam Rubens, gave his concluding remarks at the transition meeting on April 4th. Read what he shared below!

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” ― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

At the beginning of anything, it’s critical to have a direction, a plan of action, and a great team of people to work with.  On April 5th of last year, the 2014-2015 MBAA Board met for the first time to try work on developing those three elements and add new events and value to our members and the Evening MBA Program in general.    It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with that team.  I am proud of the way we embraced the challenges presented and set an example for future students by stretching the boundaries of what a volunteer board can accomplish.  Going from where we were to where we are had a lot to do with incremental growth, willingness to take some risks, and openness to ideas from all areas of student life.

Two years ago, the board was able to accomplish some significant inroads into evening student participation in social events and community building.  There were some herculean efforts from many board members, but it was challenging because we didn’t have the level of collaboration that kept the board cohesive, team-oriented, and accountable to each other.  We did a lot of good things on that board, but there was room for improvement.

Last year, we wanted to put more of a focus on building a support structure within the board so that we could function more as a team and hold each position to a higher standard while providing the tools to help get it done.  We wanted to improve the level of transparency, the quality of events, and impact on the Foster community and the community at large.  We sought to increase the value of the Foster experience and the participation of each student in the available academic and social events by following what we dubbed “the 4 Ps” – Planning, Promoting, Producing, & Pushing the Envelope.

Some of those initiatives were wildly successful, others provided good building blocks, and others were a struggle.  In hindsight, three things stand out as areas we could have improved on.  First, it was challenging to keep to the consistent organized structures that we created for ourselves.  Finding consistent and effective communication mediums also continues to be one of the greatest difficulties facing the MBAA.  Lastly, finding a better way to measure and track progress through various metrics would have been very helpful.

That said, we saw great progress in the last year:

  • We made changes to the EC titles that better reflect corporate board positions
  • We added further transparency and communication on what it means to be an MBAA Member
  • We had on Campus Happy Hours Galore!
  • We created fun, revenue generating events
  • We saw the largest number of evening students to C4C sports weekend ever
  • We won Fundraising at C4C – a big win for the evening program
  • We kicked off #OneFoster + the Scavenger Hunt and had some sweet swag
  • We had a huge evening turnout that was critical to the success of the C4C Auction this year
  • We launched a beautiful new website
  • We had a super-efficient election process
  • We had more evening club reps than ever before
  • We had another successful St. Jude’s Service Day
  • We created a new Alumni event in Wine Tasting with Alumni
  • We received extremely useful feedback for faculty from the mid-quarter reviews
  • We planned really fun and well attended on-campus BBQ for the new students & a great M’s Game
  • We had the biggest Foster Fun Run to date (double last year’s size and funds raised)
  • We saw MBAA membership grow to nearly 70% of the student population
  • We threw two parties that were probably a little “too good” in Frosters and Fosters with some amazing turnout
  • We planned a stand-up comedy act based on economics (don’t miss it on April 9th)
  • We had an evening driven effort to ratify The Out in Business Club that was the catalyst for a whole new VP Diversity position on the board and Diversity Council within Foster
  • We laid a foundation for future boards to continue to push the limits for an evening MBA program.

There is still room for improvement.

That said, you do have a solid foundation on which to grow and add your own flavor to the MBAA Board.  I have had a chance to meet and talk with all of you and I am truly excited to see what you can accomplish.

I will leave you with this advice based on two+ years of perspective:

  1. There is a delicate balance between giving people the benefit of the doubt, and holding them accountable. Everyone has a lot going on and everyone deserves to be cut a little slack sometimes.
  2. There are going to be moments where you have to say no to something you really want to do so that you can put the finishing touches on an event, come in for a Saturday meeting, or help out a board members with something they need you for. Make sure to make your position a priority more often than not.
  3. You are responsible for your position, but you are also responsible for your function as a team member on the board – its encouraged to ask questions, be an extra set of hands, and provide constructive feedback.
  4. Have fun! All work and no play makes for a tough year. Learn quickly from any struggles and move on. Celebrate your accomplishments. You will have lots of them. Keep pushing the envelope.


Going Full Circle

Going Full Circle
by Nick Pernisco

The day was Evaluation Day in early 2014. I was nervous about the group activities we’d be participating in. Lots of questions rushed through my mind. What kind of things will they have us work on? Will I work well with the group? What will the evaluators think of me? All of these anxieties were put to rest when I stepped into the room and met the people who would be evaluating us. All three evaluators, a program director and two students, seemed genuinely interested in learning about each prospective student, and paid attention to our ideas during the exercises.  A particularly friendly face that day was Connor Kilpatric, a second-year evening student who I’d later learn was very involved in school activities. After being accepted into the program, I’d see Connor at the various admitted students happy hours and we would say hello to each other. He introduced me to others on the student board over the summer and made me feel at home around the upperclassman in the program.

Before I go on, I should say that I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I didn’t have some involvement in my community, and I knew the MBA would be no different. As soon as I entered the program, I sought out information about leadership opportunities, and I learned that I could make an early impact on my class by becoming class representative, so I ran in the fall election and was elected by my classmates.

Being class rep meant I had a seat at the table with the student board – one of the best places to be if you really want to make a profound difference in the program. I had the opportunity to meet more great student leaders along the way, like Adam Rubens (President), Chris Cunningham (VP of Academic Affairs), and Briana Rubens (VP of Community Outreach), just to name a few.

When board elections came around this March, I knew that I wanted to stay involved after my class rep term was up, so I learned about the various board positions and decided to run for VP of Program Relations. Coincidentally, this was Connor’s position the year before, so I met with him to learn more about it. He gave me some ideas of what had worked for him and what still needed to be improved upon. I communicated these ideas to my classmates and I was fortunate enough to get elected, and this spring I’ll be taking over for the same person who evaluated me, and who had a say as to whether I would even join the program.

It’s interesting to reflect on the changing dynamics of relationships in the program. One day you find yourself being evaluated by someone, then they become your peer and friend, then they become your mentor. There are many stories just like this one at every turn at Foster. We’re a tight-knit community where everyone gets to know everyone else. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet some new prospective students at the latest evaluation day, and perhaps, as often seems the case, we’ll end up going full circle once again.

Connor and Nick
3rd Year Connor with 1st Year Nick

Briana Rubens takes helm as President of the Evening MBAA

On April 1st, rising third-year student Briana Rubens will be assuming the role of President of the Evening MBA Association (MBAA).

Briana Rubens, Evening MBA Class of 2016, is President of the Evening MBAA for 2015-16
Briana Rubens, Evening MBA Class of 2016, is President of the Evening MBAA for 2015-16

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA, especially a part-time program at Foster?

There were many driving factors in my decision to pursue a Foster MBA.  My desire to learn from those around me and share my enthusiasm for what I do was one of the primary reasons I decided to pursue a MBA with Foster’s Evening program.  When I was initially contemplating applying to Foster, I had a few opportunities to meet current students in the Foster program and was extremely impressed, not only with their professionalism, but with their enthusiasm for their peers and their stories about the collaborative environment in the program.  I made the decision to pursue a part-time program instead of a full time program because I wanted to tackle the challenge of learning useful skills in a classroom environment, and then immediately apply and practice these skills in my job.  Also, I found it very appealing that the Foster Business School emphasizes a connection with the broader Seattle/Washington business community, because maintaining that connection with the community during and after my time in the program is extremely important to me.  Foster is also a leader in business and is an organization that values international input and a diverse student body.  All of these key characteristics significantly align with my career aspirations and personal values.

What motivated you to be involved in MBA student leadership?

I distinctly recall showing up at a welcome BBQ before the program had officially started, and meeting members of the student leadership team, the MBA Association (MBAA). I remember having a conversation with one of the MBAA board members, who said she joined the leadership team because while she wanted to have a valuable experience in the program, she also wanted to end the program knowing that her fellow classmates also felt the value of the MBA experience. This memory has stuck with me, and I’m motivated to keep the tradition of creating value for students alive with this year’s MBAA and carry this over to future years of the leadership team.

What goals do you have for the MBAA this next year?

My primary goal for the MBAA this year is to advocate on behalf of evening students, so that we all have the opportunity to leave this program having accomplished what we set out to do during our three years with Foster.  My goal is to continue to grow the broad mix of new experiences and leadership this past year’s MBAA team has provided.  I believe it’s important to make sure that the offered experiences and resources continue to expand, and in a way that is explicitly tailored for us evening students.

What has been your experience with being in the Evening MBA Program?

My favorite experiences in the Evening MBA Program have been meeting, and sharing academic and social moments with the women and men in the program with me. I am constantly impressed with my classmates, and while learning from the professors is exceedingly valuable, participating in discussions with my peers in the classroom has made the experience extremely worthwhile. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there have been challenging moments as well, especially with adapting to the lifestyle change that comes with pursuing an MBA while also working. Having a core student team where we’ve helped each other through the challenges and being able to share this experience with my peers has alleviated quite a bit of the stress.

What advice would you give someone looking at pursuing an MBA?

My advice would be to carve out a healthy amount of time to consider both why you want to pursue your MBA and what you hope to get out of your MBA experience.  Three years flies by quickly, and I believe it’s important to know what you plan to do during those three years, and what you want your MBA to do for you when you’ve graduated from the program.  I also would highly encourage connecting with either current or former students from Foster, scheduling a classroom visit and attending the MBA application workshops to get a better sense of what makes Foster unique and what the MBA experience will be like.



Our first class at Foster: an eLEAD recap

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Go Dawgs!

Michaela is a two-time Husky and loves cheering on the Dawgs with her friends.
Michaela (center) is a two-time Husky and loves cheering on the Dawgs with her friends.