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Graduation & Reflection

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

A fantastic program coming to a fantastic ending. The TMMBA graduation is going to be held on Monday, June 7th alongside the Executive MBA program. With graduation comes a time of reflection on the program. What do I know now that I wish I knew before enrolling in the program? Top 3 priority order:

  1. Intensity of the program and time demands.We were informed that it would be a considerable time commitment but before actually experiencing it how would you understand. I thought, hey, two nights a week (class, review) would add five hours to my life. I even thought about outside reading and team meetings and said to myself oh that would add potentially five more hours to my week, ok. Then I thought about that every other Saturday the entire day was occupied, another 4hrs avg per week. So, okay that’s on average 14hrs additional work per work. Even if it was that low on some weeks, that’s a lot of time!!
  2. It’s about the People. The most important aspect of the program is the class mates and more specifically your 4 to 6 person team. This aspect of the program is a make or break. I am fortunate to have had a stellar team comprised of a diverse background from Liberal Arts, Business and Engineering. The diversity of perspectives is key. We also had complementary skills of which creative and analytical stand out. The faculty overall is extremely solid but there are  few professors that missed the mark and I know the administration is receptive to our feedback.
  3. Value.  While I have a high financial burden of paying for the program I do so considering the time, dollar investment against both qualitative and salary returns. What I know now is that I can knock on more doors and most of them will open. For example, my goal is to work on product marketing so as I approach leaders in the space I am confident that I can not only hold a conversation with them but also I can add value to their organizations. I’ll take a line from Dr. Lee Hartwell, the Nobel Laureate at Fred Hutchinson, who once related a story about his graduate work at MIT – “I asked a distinguished professor, why do you like to spend so much time with me, afterall you know so much and I am still learning so much. The professor replied, ‘Well I have the answers, but you son, have all the questions!’.  As a fresh MBA graduate I am a strong asset to any organization because  I have a lot of insightful questions and a high curiosity. The TMMBA program not only prepares you with the set of frameworks to make tough business decisions but also instills the inquisitiveness and curiosity to ask the critical questions of yourself as a leader and of your strategy as a business be it operational (supply chain), financial (accounting), organizational (management), or marketing.

Business Plan Competition Takeaways

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)

Last week during the final rounds of the business plan competition we saw a very strong pool of finalists. The diversity of ideas was awesome – from an assisted walking mechanism to green bricks. The winner, Yongopal offers a compelling platform for ESL conversations between South Korean students and US college students. While our team, TrueLight, made it to the sweet sixteen we did not advance to the final six. Some key lessons learned though are useful for any would be contestants or budding entrepreneurs.

  1. Secure IP by either an Option or License
  2. If you are not the inventor have the inventor on your board and with you in the competition
  3. Have a beta product/prototype at the least.
  4. If there’s an elephant in the room (meaning a big assumption or barrier to your success) expose it and deal with it strongly
  5. Have an advisory board that has some clout

And lastly, bring viral passion to the presentation.

The Business Plan Competition – TrueLight FLIIP

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2010)
So the closure of any academic pursuit is a diploma or title of some kind. I think in business school that closure should not only be a degree, but if you are fortunate enough a business. In the past few months, my teammates from the TMMBA program have formed a venture called TrueLight. I’m proud of our team and how far we have come from just a bunch of strangers during orientation near the washington/canadian border. We are now a team with not only an academic purpose but also a real business venture!

Follow our team as we revolutionize the experience of viewing and interacting with content on mobile devices through our interactive pico projector.

This LG concept device is a perfect fit for the FLIIP. This LG concept device is a perfect fit for the FLIIP.

Summer Funancial Aid

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student

So only read this posting if you are not a trust fund baby, work for a company with full tuition reimbursement, or are so well off you should be in the Executive MBA program. This post is about why financial aid for summer tuition is so much fun.

Firstly, you must realize that the academic calendar is like a fiscal calendar it ends with the spring quarter, roughly June. So that means you have to apply for Summer quarter onwards for the 2009-10 academic year. Okay, I realized this the first week of June, great, that means I technically have about one month to get my financial aid information completed to meet the Summer Quarter tuition deadline of Friday, July 10th. Plenty of time, oh ya summer fun and travel and financial aid no worries. I even had a month off of work and barely made the cutoff, in fact I missed it but was saved by the secret Monday, July 13th actual deadline….here’s the drama and why I termed it funancial aid.

1) I go to and fill out all my information – 15mins to an hour depending on the amount of fabrication you want to submit. For me I don’t fabricate so it takes me longer to look up stuff about how much I cannot currently afford this $60K+ program

2) The UW funancial aid office receives my submitted fafsa form – felt like a week could have been less/more doesn’t matter when you call them you are on hold for at least 10 minutes every time if not 30 minutes so it feels like the experience is longer especially with the awkward moments of pause silence where you don’t know ifyou have lost cell phone coverage or somebody on the other line is playing a game on you or that you’ve listened to the background music so long that it numbs your sense of hearing so you hear nothing although there is something

3) UW informs me after I call them and proactively ask what’s up with aid that I need to prove that I’m a citizen and fill out a form and go visit the Social Security Administration – okay I like jumping hoops and wasting beautiful summer afternoons proving that I voted in the last few elections and that I am a citizen and oh wait you gave me financial aid the last two quarters, yes this is fun

4) Now after submitting the proof of citizenship I’m awarded aid another phone conversation with the UW Funancial Aid office confirms that yes I should be ready to go we are now around 1st week of July and my aid is awaiting my approval/acceptance of it

5) I accept the aid and it’s a couple of days before the cut off – so the story is over but wait i have to sign some electronic promissory note at some obscure website that is not posted in my UW funancial aid web page, so another converstaion with the UW funancial aid office i get a letter by letter read out of this 80 letter obscure website

6) I click through the website reading nothing because it takes 72 hours from the point of completing it to hit UW office of funancial aid, this takes about 20 minutes even with reading nothing and filling out a few pieces of personal info, there’s like 15 steps it feels like a weight loss program for typists my fingers were skinnier when i completed it my ring fell of my left ring finger it was weird, surreal, fun experience i felt like i became divorced from reality and married to the financial aid process in some weird literal, figurative way

7) Next I call the UW funancial aid office on deadline day July 10th, and ask did you get the money yet, this was after waiting 25 minutes on hold, the answer was no

8) It’s Monday, July 13th grace period day for tuition deadline, I call funancial aid UW and ask money present? the response was umm well you need to contact UW fiscal services on this issue we have seen a lot delays for aid funding not sure what’s wrong. So Fiscal Services pushes through the aid it was like sitting in some electronic funds gateway just like waiting for some manual intervention, no clue, stopped asking why is this happening to me and was just grateful at that point that I could incur tens of thousands of dollars of debt

Unfortunately this may be the story of people in debt all across our great country and why sometimes I feel like my older friends are right when they say save then spend. Then again, financial leverage, to a certain extent, is healthy just all the trouble to get there puts a bit of strain on your health.

I hope your experience is better than mine and that you are fortunate enough not to have had to read this blog, meaning don’t need financial aid.

What time is it anyways…

Hani Rachidi, TMMBA Student

The TMMBA has started to stretch my time more than I had initially anticipated. From my first couple of months in the program this is my typical week at bottom of the post. I imagine from talking to a sample of colleagues this is the norm and a larger range of min to max hours invested exists but I would say no more than +/- 8hrs.

The time invested, though, does not reflect the real learning returns. The study of Business is so fluid and so dynamic. I found that I can learn one concept in five minutes and a whole other in five weeks. The richness of the curriculum and the caliber of the students in the program have met my expectations so far. Since practicing the concepts in this program in the real world make the learning stick and refine it I am starting a measure that I will update through each blog post. I am calling it the Relevance Factor. It measures how relevant the learning in each course is to my job. Two components will make up this factor:

1. T – Aided in thought processes or discussions at work – did it get me to an answer faster or more thoroughly
2. I – Implemented a concept or learning from the program to my job

So far I have implemented Feedforward (a concept introduced by Prof Greg Bigley on giving/receiving feedback) in my workgroup. 1pt for I.

So far I have used learnings in Rev Recognition from an Accounting perspective to understand at a more fundamental level a project that I am working on in the Rev Recognition space. Understanding the pros and cons of recognizing revenue in either a time of sale or amortized manner (over a period of time in increments). 1pt for T.

Relevance Factor = 2

The schedule:
Mondays – Team Meeting 1 to 3hrs
Tuesdays – Preparing for Wed class 2 to 4hrs
Wednesdays – Attending class 4hrs (incl dinner and after class chats)
Thursdays – Attending review session 1 to 3hrs (incl team quick synchs or after class chats)
Fridays – Preparing for Sat class (only every other week) 1 to 3hrs
Saturdays – Attending class 8 to 9hrs (incl breakfast and after class chats)
Sundays – Homework usually due or Preparing for upcoming week 1 to 4hrs

Range of hrs spent 18 to 30hrs (when week incl Sat class)