All posts by Sara Jones

Not to Miss Tips on the TMMBA Application

The September 1 Technology Management MBA application deadline is fast approaching! With that in mind, I want to share some really good tips on the application process that you might have missed in the TMMBA blog archives.

1. Preparing for the GMAT

Last year a TMMBA staff member took the GMAT so she could share her experience first-hand with applicants. To simulate the experiences that many applicants go through, she studied during non-work hours for less than two months and used many of the study techniques that we recommend at TMMBA.   Here’s a post from each week of preparation:

2. Tackle the Essays

As part of the TMMBA application, you are required to submit three essays, each 500 words or less.

  • Why have you decided to apply to the TMMBA Program? What are your career goals in the next 5 to 10 years and how will an MBA help you reach these goals?
  • In essay format, evaluate and describe your career using the four factors of the SWOT analysis framework.
  • Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity or potential? Describe the situation and the impact you had on a person, group or organization.

If you’re having a hard time getting started and are suffering from writer’s block, read our 5 Tips For Your TMMBA Essays.

If you’re not sure what a SWOT analysis is or how write one for your career, don’t miss this post: The SWOT Analysis Essay and the Four Questions We Are (Really) Asking.

3. Acing the Admissions Interview

The admissions interview is the final step in the process of applying to the TMMBA Program.  Our Program Director, Tracy Gojdics, has done a lot of these over the years (461 and counting!) and has learned a lot about interviewing and engaging with applicants. She wrote this post to shed light on the TMMBA interview approach and what you can expect.

Do you still have questions about putting together your best possible application? Check out these additional video tips and sign up for a TMMBA Application Workshop.   

Lessons from the Desert – A Look Back on the 2013 International Study Tour

In March, a group of 22 students, alumni, staff, and faculty landed in Dubai for the beginning of the TMMBA International Study Tour.  We spent 10 days in the United Arab Emirates and had the opportunity to visit 11 companies and government agencies and to take in the local sites and culture.

Photo of company visit to e-Home Automation
Meeting with Founder & CEO of e-Home Automation in Dubai

This year an overarching theme for the trip was examining our “global mindset” regarding the way we live, and how we and our organizations do business in comparison to the geographical and cultural context of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Two definitions of global mindset shared by Bruce Avolio, our faculty for the trip, were:

“An expansive way of seeing and thinking that grasps the individual, team, and organizational challenges and opportunities triggered by operating in a complex global business environment.”

“The cognitive capabilities of senior managers in multinational companies”
– Source: What We Talk About When We Talk About “Global Mindset”: Managerial Cognition in Multinational Corporations

We explored this concept before we departed for the UAE through several reading assignments, videos, and an individual assessment that gave insight into our own abilities that contribute to the development of a global mindset.  We were asked to consider and explore a few questions during the trip and used our time on the bus between company visits to delve in more deeply. For example:

  • What are the challenges of working in a global cross-cultural context and in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi?
  • What are the best companies doing to manage and lead in a global context?
  • How might technology facilitate or hinder working in a complex, global context?
  • What constitutes one’s global mindset and how is it developed?
  • How does one’s global mindset relate to leading and managing across different cultural contexts?
  • What are the implications of having a global mindset for performance?

There were great discussions during our time in the UAE and one student who went on the trip put together this video on the experience.

Interested in learning more about our takeaways from International Study Tour? Check out this blog post from student Anne-Marie Scollay and these final thoughts on Leadership in the Middle East from our faculty, Bruce Avolio.

In March 2014 TMMBA will take a group to visit another part of the world, Vietnam. Learn more about that trip and stay tuned for their takeaways from the experience abroad.


Sara Jones, Associate Director and 2012 alumna

Are you wondering if you’ll get enough return on your MBA investment to make the sacrifice worth it?  ROI can be measured in many ways—new career options, the value of the network, a sense of security, compensation and more.

So, what is the TMMBA ROI?

Last month we surveyed alumni who graduated from the program two years ago. The responses are still coming in, but here’s a sneak peak at some of the data so far:

  • 24 months after graduation, most respondents so far have said they made a career change
    • 38% changed functional disciplines
    • 48% moved up vertically
    • 5% started their own company
  • 100% are more confident in their business skills and abilities
  • 90% have increased their strategic business responsibilities
  • 67% have greater budget responsibility
  • Almost all respondents have seen an increase in salary, with an average increase over 20%

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for complete results of the alumni ROI survey. 

In the meantime, I encourage you to talk directly with our alums or attend tomorrow’s panel discussion on the TMMBA ROI.  The panel is made up of three alums and one student who will share more about their return on investment from the TMMBA Program.

The TMMBA ROI: a candid conversation with TMMBA alumni  & students

Thursday, August 8
6:00 – 8:00 pm
Eastside Executive Center, Kirkland

Ameya Bhatawdekar, Founder of Nuubuu
Kevin Croy, Partner at 9Mile Labs
Jeremy Hutton, Associate at Point B Consulting
Padmaja Vrudhula, Strategist at VMWare

The TMMBA experience: A Q&A with current students and an alum

Sara Jones, Associate Director & 2012 alum

I recently hosted a live chat on Twitter with two current TMMBA students and an alum to talk about their experience going through the program. From why they chose the program to favorite classes and career impact, here’s a recap of what they had to say.

LinkedIn Alumni offers powerful tool to leverage your alumni networks

Sara Jones, TMMBA Associate Director and 2012 alumnus

According to John Hill, 85% of job opportunities will come through someone that’s a 2nd level connection on LinkedIn. John is LinkedIn’s Higher Education Evangelist and last week he came to the Foster School to share tips and strategies for getting the most out of LinkedIn.  Although it wasn’t all new to me, John was a great presenter who could really tell a story and make his message stick.

The three big points of the night were:

  1. Build a network before you need it.
  2. Build a quality network not a quantity network.
  3. Dream big.

The rest of the talk was on how to use LinkedIn to manage relationships and help accomplish these big points. He shared several great tips, but I want to highlight one feature that you might not be as familiar with: LinkedIn Alumni.

Here’s a screenshot:

linkedIn alumni

If a fellow TMMBA or Foster alum reached out to me, I’m likely to take the call. Why? Because we have something in common. With LinkedIn Alumni, you can now find fellow alums of your university or b-school AND you can filter by where they live, work, what they do, skills, and several others.

For example, if I was looking at relocating to the Bay area and interested in Google, I can drill down and see that I have 19 fellow Foster alums that graduated in the past 5 years.  Or maybe you’re sick of the Seattle rain and ready to move to the islands.  In my case, I have 87 fellow alums that I could reach out to in Hawaii.

That’s a pretty powerful tool to help you leverage your alumni networks. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Business Plan Competition past participants offer advice for students

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director

Last summer I interviewed a group of TMMBA students that competed in the Business Plan Competition and won 2nd place for their concept, Xylemed. They had a lot to share about the experience and gave some great insights into the various competition stages.  Here’s the video:

Now that the 2013 Business Plan Competition activities are getting under way, I went back to the interview transcripts and pulled out a few final thoughts and pieces of advice that they have for someone considering the competition.

Marc: It is going to be really tough if you don’t have something that either has traction or you can gain traction quickly.  All of the teams that had some success either had a contract signed, product in development, or started a kick starter campaign and had some sort of traction. We heard from multiple people that it is almost less of a business plan competition than it is a business competition.

Jason: Use it as an opportunity to really push yourself.  You probably go to work and do a few things that are very specific, whereas when you are trying to launch a company with only a few teammates, you really have to have a much broader perspective on things.  You are going to learn a lot from just having to think through so many questions and in different ways than you have probably had to think before.

Also, if you are trying to identify an opportunity for the business plan competition, look at examples within your own company or try to find pain points within your own work or life.  Those are probably the most relevant to you that you will be able to be passionate about and hopefully create a product or service that really resonates with a target audience.

Ben: If you really want to make it into the final four, you have to have a product which exists, which is in a way too bad, because it is less of a business plan competition and more of a startup competition. But I wouldn’t let that defer you from entering the competition if you have enough of an idea that you want to see get off the ground.  The harsh reality is that you probably won’t make it into the finals, but you will get so much more out of the competition than you ever think you will entering it that it is still very much worth it.

Anoop: It does take a decent amount of time, adding that to the class workload. You really have to be willing to dedicate time to it, but it is definitely worthwhile and I think the benefits far outweigh the time you put into it.

TMMBA Faculty Spill the Beans on their Favorite Resources

By Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director

There are so many books, websites, and resources for business professionals that it can be hard to find the golden nuggets in the mix. I recently caught up with two TMMBA faculty members and asked for a list of favorite resources they would recommend to students and alums. Here’s what they said:

Debra Glassman, Senior Lecturer in Business EconomicsProfessor Debra Glassman

Glassman has been at the Foster School since 1992 and began teaching Domestic & International Economic Conditions in TMMBA in 2011. Her specialties include international finance, global macroeconomics, international trade policy and institutions, and European business. When I asked for her recommendation, she suggested publications from the Federal Reserve. Here’s why:

Publications from regional Federal Reserve banks have articles that are short, timely, and accessible to the general business reader.  Examples include (but are not limited to) the “Chicago Fed Letter,”, the Cleveland Fed’s “Forefront,” and “The Region” from the Minneapolis Fed.   You can search topics across all Federal Reserve publications using

Warren Boeker, Professor of ManagementProfessor Warren Boeker

Professor Boeker teaches Strategic Management of Technology & Innovation during the fourth quarter of the TMMBA Program. He specializes in competition, corporate strategy, entrepreneurship, and international business. He has seven go-to websites and blogs on his list:

Boeker also recommends the book Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson.

What are your favorite business resources?

New benefits for TMMBA students and alums!

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director

The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) is one of the largest statewide tech trade associations in North America, and we’re it’s newest member!  What does this mean for you? Through the TMMBA WTIA membership our students and alumni now have access to their wide mix of member benefits, including:

  • Free and discounted attendance at WTIA events
  • Access to the WTIA network (800 member companies and 100,000 tech workers statewide)
  • 13 community and special interest groups to join
  • Access to online WTIA Job Center
  • Discounts through WTIA Marketplace (health benefits, human resources, 401K, computer equipment, personal insurance, and more)

Networking on the Ultimate Field

Sara Jones, Class of 2012 and TMMBA Assistant Director

This summer I played on the TMMBA Alumni Ultimate frisbee team in the DiscNW Summer Corporate League. This was my first time playing Ultimate and I captured my initial thoughts in this earlier post.  The season wrapped up two weeks ago and it’s time for an update.

There were lots of opportunities during the season to improve my actual frisbee skills, but the game stretched me to grow in other areas as well. On the field you need to be adaptable, deal with ambiguity, and learn to read your own team members as well as the other team. Of course, communication with your teammates can make or break the game. These skills are important in the workplace and also as a student in the TMMBA program.  It was great to work those muscles in a new setting!

That said, the best part of my experience this summer was the people.  I got to know more of my fellow alums (post-game celebrations helped), their family members that came to cheer us on, and met some really cool folks from the other teams. We played teams from REI, Microsoft, Google, King County, Fred Hutch, Tableau Software, Apex Learning, and Boeing. The sidelines and post-game cheers were great opportunities for casual networking.

All-in-all it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to next season. We’re even talking about some TMMBA pick-up games this fall.

Building Effective Teams

Professor Greg Bigley has taught in the TMMBA Program since its inception in 2001. He teaches Building Effective Work Teams at the start of the program and Leading Organization Change during the fifth quarter.  Bigley is a high-energy instructor and his classes are fast-paced, challenging, and extremely relevant. As a result, he has been recognized by students several times for his excellence in teaching.

In his classes, Bigley focuses on the relationship of people, structure, and culture on organizational and team performance. In this short video, he shares more about building effective teams.