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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.



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.


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

School’s out for summer

The following is a message sent out to the student body by Adam Rubens, President of the Evening MBAA. Adam has just finished his second year in the program; his wife, Briana, has just finished her first.

Adam Rubens '15 (right) with his wife Briana Rubens '16 (left).
Adam Rubens, EveMBA’15 (right) with his wife Briana Rubens, EveMBA ’16 (left). This picture is from the annual C4C Auction which is organized by Foster MBA students to benefit the Boys & Girls Club and Special Olympics.

A Message from the Evening MBAA President:

Few things benchmark the magnitude of the change that we go through during the school year like Summer Break.  It never ceases to amaze me how “just working” can feel like a vacation from all the sprints during the school year.  It’s critical that you enjoy the time off from school – spend time with friends you haven’t seen in what seems like forever, take a trip somewhere, read a good book, hit the gym, binge watch all those episodes of Game of Thrones that you missed because you had assignments to turn on Sunday nights.

I think that part of that summer enjoyment comes from re-balancing life a bit and redirecting the newly available academic energy into some of the things that fall to the bottom of the priority list.

Still thinking about switching jobs but haven’t been “Green-Lit” yet?  Career Services is offering workshops all summer long to help you (check the newsletter for the schedule).  Want to get a head start on next year’s Business Plan Competition?  Take some time to think about that brilliant idea that you haven’t had the bandwidth to explore.

Whatever activities you decide to pursue in the next 3 months, know that the MBAA board will be planning some fun things for you this summer and some new events to help you reengage in being a student when you get back to school in the Fall.

Until we meet again,
Adam Rubens
EveMBAA President

Passing the Torch, State of the MBAA

As the old MBAA board transitions to the new, the outgoing President presents a “State of the Union” to the old and new boards. The following was written by Ben Flajole, President of the MBAA during 2013-14, and presented to the boards at the beginning of April.

Ben Flajole, Evening MBAA President 2013-14
Ben Flajole, Evening MBAA President 2013-14

I wanted to start at the beginning. I found out about my acceptance to the Evening Program at the Foster School on March 18th, 2011. I remember because I was at my friend’s bachelor party in Las Vegas. I was standing in the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and I’ll say this much: there are fewer prouder moments of my live. Along with the other members of the Class of 2014, I am now preparing for the next milestone in my journey: June 14th- graduation.

I mention these specific dates and events because they are some of the most important moments of my Foster experience. I submit another date: March 31, 2014, the first day of Spring Quarter, and the official commencement of your term. As I’ve come to realize after sitting in your shoes last year, you all now sit on the precipice of one of the most valuable and memorable experiences of your time here at Foster.

Our board hosted the biggest Evening MBAA end-of-the-year function to date, with nearly 250 people in attendance. We chilled at the “Frosters”, our winter function, which marked an early performance of Adam’s brother as DJ, or “the next Skrillex” as I like to think of him. We hosted professional events and ordered the business cards that were exchanged there. We awarded Students of the Month, to show Foster how important community-builders are to us. We even created an Evening MBAA gear order, which generated a $600 donation to our C4C efforts. Our board realized that students didn’t always know how much the MBAA was responsible for doing, so I charge you all with always thinking about MBAA branding.

There are few things that people love more than me “monologue-ing.” So I’ll be as brief as possible as I share some of the key learnings from my time on the board. You are all here because you see Foster as something greater than the sum of its parts. You see an opportunity to grow a community that is rich, vibrant, and dynamic. And for all the times that this experience will be about others, be sure to also make it about you.

You will be called upon to run errands, to arrange tables, and stack chairs. You’ll wake up too early, stay up too late, check names off of lists, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll obtain banquet permits. The buck stops with you. The MBAA is a volunteer, student-led organization that depends on you all to function to its greatest capability. Be accountable for yourself. If you cannot fulfill your commitments, reach out to your colleagues. You will all have moments of feeling challenged by all of your non-academic responsibilities. If you need assistance, let someone know.

Some of you joined the board for specific reasons. You already have a vision, and see the possibilities of implementing your initiatives. If you don’t, you will- Adam and Tim will see to it. Be mindful of creating timelines and sticking to them. Deliverables matter. Twelve months goes by very quickly, so I urge you to take advantage of the summer and get a jumpstart. The summer is crucial for hitting the ground running in the fall. Being behind in the fall means you’re struggling to catch up for the winter and spring quarters. Commit to organization. Use the existing structures and build on them where needed.

Finally, have fun. Enjoy this experience- you will make some great friends, grow existing connections, and expand your network. You will learn about leadership, working with others, and the importance of vision. You will accomplish great things. Refer to the transition documents for notes on your specific positions, but feel free to reach out to your predecessor if you haven’t already. If there is anything that I can do to help you, I’m always a phone call or email away. I wish you all the best in this journey. And here’s a little nugget to file away: March 30th, 2015, the start of spring quarter next year and the beginning of YOUR successors’ MBAA board. So do your best to make the next 12 months count.