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.
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.
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!
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.
It’s back to school time and the Foster MBA Admissions team couldn’t be more excited to welcome 112 individuals into the Evening MBA Class of 2017. The decision to return to school differs from person to person, but the reasons for why they chose Foster all sound familiar: they are excited for the collaborative, challenging environment that Foster provides and everybody cannot wait to meet their incredible network of classmates.
Meet eight of these incoming students – all who have agreed to document their first year in the program through the Foster Evening MBA Blog. Like the rest of their class, they come from diverse backgrounds and have a myriad of interests. And, like the rest of their class, they can’t wait to meet each other!
ROSE ANTHONY: Rose is a member of the 2017 Evening MBA class and currently a systems engineer at the Boeing Company. Her background includes a BS in structural engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a BS in mathematics from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Rose grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved to Seattle after graduation in 2009. Rose loves the Northwest, as it fits greatly with her active lifestyle and keeping busy. In Rose’s free time she is an avid distance runner, enjoys downhill skiing, hiking, eating, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.
MICHAELA BYRNE: Michaela is joining the incoming class of 2017 in the Foster Evening program this fall. Originally from Alaska, Michaela has spent extensive time living overseas, graduating from High School in Thailand and spending long periods of time in Europe and other parts of Asia. Since graduation, Michaela has pursued a career path that combines both her love for Business and passion for Technology, by successfully contributing to digital companies, both large and small. Currently, Michaela is the Global Operations Manager for Zooppa.com Inc., a crowdsourcing platform for online media, based out of Seattle. In her free time Michaela loves running, yoga, exploring Seattle’s music scene, and traveling. She is eager to begin her graduate school experience at Foster and looks forward to the opportunities to get involved!
ANNA CASCIARI: Anna is an avid reader of the novel variety. You’ll find her in the kitchen on Sunday nights cooking up a variety of dishes and treats to last her the week. She Crossfits most mornings at 6AM, and the other days she’s outside running the Burke Gilman trail. And although she would love to fill my days with hobbies, she also needs to work: Her current role is as a Supervisor on an implementation project to replace Costco’s HR/Payroll System. She has been on the project two years, but she’s worked at Costco for over four and have had positions in Accounting and HR, moving from entry level to analyst positions. After this current project, she will move into a role supervising a department that oversees the Organizational Management (Org Structure) portion of the new HR/Payroll System. This is a brand new department at Costco, which she imagines will make the next year interesting as her department learns what their roles require.
ANDREW CREIGHTON: Andrew joins us from the food manufacturing industry, where he has worked since getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering in 2010. His career interests include manufacturing operations and consumer marketing. Outside of work, Andrew likes to spend time in the outdoors, especially in both the mountains and the waters: he’s a scuba diver and snowboarder.
Meredith Heestand: Meredith was born and raised in Bothell, WA and after graduating with a degree in Molecular Biology from University of Denver, she returned to Seattle in 2008 where she has been a Molecular Biologist and part-time cycling instructor at Flywheel Sports. Meredith has six years of professional experience under her belt; nearly four years at Seattle BioMed spent researching the parasite causing African Sleeping Sickness, and two years and counting in biotech at Theraclone Sciences where she develops cancer therapeutics. Aside from work, fitness and volunteering are her main hobbies. Meredith loves to road cycle, run, rock climb, snowboard, and lift the occasional heavy barbell at CrossFit. She’s completed one marathon, several half marathons, 10 century bike rides, and last year finished the STP 204 mile bike ride in one day. She co-captains a Bike MS Washington fundraising team and sits on the Ambassador Board for Friends of the Children Washington, a non-profit providing full time mentors to vulnerable youth in Seattle. She also enjoys cooking, spending time with her 1-year-old niece, and indulging in good wine and bourbon.
RAY LOYOLA: Ray has been an engineer at Boeing for over 10 years. He is currently an engineer in the passenger seats group, where he is responsible for the electrical integration and certification of seats into the 747 and 777 airplanes. The organization works constantly with seat suppliers around the world, to ensure on-time delivery of their seats into Boeing’s customer’s airplanes. Prior to working with seats, he spent 7 years on the 787 Dreamliner program as it went through initial design, ground / flight testing, and the delivery to the first few customers. Outside of work, Ray enjoys playing soccer, watching the Sounders, Mariners and Gonzaga Basketball, traveling, and doing anything and everything in Seattle – he loves this city!
NICK PERNISCO: Nick has been an entrepreneur since the age of 11, when he helped his parents run their hotel in a small coastal town in Argentina, finding new ways to please guests and increase revenues. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to launch a variety of companies, particularly in the media and tech industries. His latest company is TeleBEEM, which focuses on bringing unique digital content to mobile and to the web. Nick is heavily involved in the community, volunteering as a math tutor and serving on several non-profit boards. As a person living with Parkinson’s Disease, Nick is involved in various efforts to help raise awareness and to help find a cure. Nick earned his Bachelor’s degree in Radio-Television-Film, and a Master’s degree in Mass Communications, both from California State University, Northridge. He speaks fluent Spanish, intermediate Italian, and basic Russian, and he holds dual citizenship with Italy. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, practicing yoga, playing tennis, and following international news and politics. Nick lives in Seattle with his wife Rosaline (Foster MBA 2014), and their two cats.
DANIEL WEBB: Daniel is a major gifts officer for the College of the Environment at the University of Washington. He received a BA in Business from Southwestern University, a liberal arts school near Austin, TX, and has six years of experience in higher education fundraising, getting his start in the development office with his alma mater. Daniel serves on the board of directors for the Northwest Development Officers Association. He enjoys hiking, camping, playing soccer and adventuring in the Northwest with his wife and friends.
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Name: Shane Kigin Age: 32 Graduation Year: 2016 Profession: US Navy Pilot
My background: I’ve been in the Navy for eight years since graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2006. After two years of helicopter flight training in Florida, I was stationed in San Diego, California. I deployed twice: first in 2010 off the coast of Central America to conduct counter-narcotics trafficking operations, then again in 2012 to Afghanistan part of a provincial reconstruction team. I began working at the University of Washington Naval ROTC in January, 2013.
What has been your most valuable academic experience at Foster?: Establishing a firm foundation in basic financial language and practices, including accounting, finance, economics, and statistical analysis.
What lead you to pursue an MBA?: Faced with decreasing budgets and a “do-more-with-less” mindset from our congressional financiers, the US Navy needs men and women with sound financial understanding. Given that my profession operates in a “move up or move out” promotion system, an MBA will hopefully help me promote within my organization and serve the nation and its Navy in the best way possible.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned at Foster?: I CAN trust other people — the teamwork-centric approach to learning at Foster was daunting, as we’ve all had bad luck with teams in the past… but it turns out our teams are pretty awesome and we produce high-quality products.
Summer Plans?: Between working a full time job and taking an extra MBA class this past quarter, I haven’t been this excited for summer since I was a kid! I’ll still be working, but plan to enjoy plenty of free evenings and weekends of Seattle’s beautiful summer weather. We’ll also head out of town once or twice to introduce our seven-month-old son Oliver to his extended family and to the world.