All posts by Sarah McCaffrey

Sarah McCaffrey is a graduate student with the TMMBA and MCDM programs at the University of Washington, seeking to combine business fundamentals with creative web communications. She lives near Seattle with her husband, two daughters, and too many pets.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Seven

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

My final post already. I’ve enjoyed blogging for the TMMBA this week. I hope my profile has been helpful to anyone considering the program. Despite the fast tempo, when you face down unfamiliar classes and turn in work that you’re proud of, you feel energized.

Team photo courtesy Pritam Das
Team photo courtesy Pritam Das

So for my week in review:

Monday: Persuasive presentation and a Macroeconomics session.

Tuesday: Review of presentation video and scheduled coaching call, Skype team meeting.

Wednesday: MCDM class session, read read read and spend quality time with my daughters before momentum carries the week away from us.

Thursday: *Birthday*

Friday: Prepare for Saturday class. I also expected to watch my nephew for the day, but my husband tricked me to keep me from making other plans — my sister actually agreed to watch our girls. We took our dogs for a walk at the local arboretum, had lunch, then went to ride go-karts as a late birthday surprise.

Saturday: Macrothon

Sunday: Polish case write-up, collapse.

Just kidding, who has time to collapse? It all starts again tomorrow.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Six

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Just a short post today: We had our Macropalooza, two four-hour macroeconomics session at Paccar Hall. A group of PhD candidates brought in a lottery-themed study for our participation, which was a lot of fun. I drove straight home at four for a family gathering and found out that my sister is expecting a baby boy, her second. After that, our team kept an updated e-mail chain going to put the final touches on our Marketing Management team write-up, which we will submit tomorrow. Just another relaxing weekend…

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Five

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Early tomorrow, our cohort will meet on the Seattle campus for two straight sessions of Macroeconomics — Monday section was calling it “Macropalooza” and Wednesday came up with “Macropalypse.” Classes on the UW campus are fun (no joke, even though it’s class on a sunny Saturday) because the entire cohort, Monday and Wednesday sections, combine to take classes together. The Eastside Executive Center is our usual location, but Paccar Hall offers a great change of pace. The building is impressive, and we eat lunch on the terrace.

Image courtesy Foster School of Business
Image courtesy Foster School of Business

Today I finished all of my reading for the weekend to preempt a busy schedule coming up next week. The TMMBA requires a good amount of reading. Let me reassure you, though: most of the articles, case studies, and texts are written in an engaging style to hold our attention. The reading becomes more of a hobby than an obligation.

My books after two finished quarters.
My books after two finished quarters.

After classes on campus, the cohort usually meets on University Avenue for a drink, but unfortunately I will have to miss tomorrow’s gathering. My sister’s family and friends will get together to find out the gender of her baby on the way, by spraying each other with silly string that’s secretly blue or pink. It’s amazing how much can fit in a day.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Four

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Today is my birthday.

Image courtesy Crafty Candles
Image courtesy Crafty Candles

After publishing this post, I will log off for the rest of the day. Front-loading TMMBA coursework ahead of special occasions has been surprisingly straightforward. Every now and then, a critical assignment or study session might conflict with personal time, but the pacing of the program doesn’t allow it to happen often. I haven’t missed a family birthday, wedding, or holiday yet. My sisters have picked up the habit of checking my Saturday class schedule before planning something major. Everyone supports educational goals, going out of their way to make the adaptation painless for me. It’s a side of them I love to see.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Three

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Yesterday evening, my learning team and I had a Skype session to go over an upcoming group case write-up. We often prefer meeting in person for major team projects, especially while figuring out our first plan of attack; but Skype, Google hangouts, Facebook, and e-mail make our priorities much more flexible and manageable.

Incoming call.
Incoming call.

For example, we can put together some rough numbers and share the work on-screen during a group call.

So helpful. (Edited because this is an active assignment.)
So helpful. (Edited because this is an active assignment.)

We stayed online for about an hour, settled on an outline for the case write-up, and planned our next meeting. After hanging up, we were already in our own homes, free to keep working or shift focus as needed. Remote meetings are a little harder to navigate than face-to-face conversations, but they have their perks.

Today, I caught up on reading at the park near my house, one of my best habits for study-life balance. My kids appreciate it. Laptops and tablets were the inventions of the century — I think most of our TMMBA class would agree. I also had a Media Theory class with the University of Washington MCDM program. Some of my classmates give me a lot of credit for pursuing two degrees, but the momentum makes doubling up much easier than it sounds. Until last year, the military demanded most of my time. I appreciate how many hours I get to spend with my family now, though I do look forward to reading future “Weeks in the Life” from full-time working members of the cohort. I can’t imagine how they get it all done.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day Two

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

As I mentioned in day one’s blog post, I gave a persuasive presentation for Professional Communications yesterday evening. This particular class progresses in a unique format: a comprehensive seminar during immersion week followed by a longer-term self-paced schedule. We developed personal elevator speeches first, snapshots of who we are and what we hope to achieve condensed to the length of an elevator ride. I plan to maintain an up-to-date elevator speech for the rest of my professional career. Knowing exactly what to say in those moments is valuable.

Our most recent exercise was broader in focus, any topic with which we hope to persuade our classmates. Tactful persuasion is more complicated than it looks.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Sarah McCaffrey, Day One

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

Welcome to the first installment of a new TMMBA series, “Week in the Life,” in which you can read about a typical week in the life of a TMMBA student. Today you’ll hear a little bit about me, Sarah McCaffrey, a former Marine Staff Sergeant currently in full-time pursuit of two degrees, the Technology Management MBA and the Master of Communication in Digital Media.

I’m writing this blog post during a break in the middle of our Macroeconomics class.

Classmates focusing intently on the CPI inflation of Japan.
Classmates focusing intently on the CPI inflation of Japan.

My TMMBA-related activities start early, checking my university e-mail account and a private Facebook group set up by my learning team over morning coffee, to see if we have any action items. Today I spent a little over two hours rehearsing my Professional Communications persuasive speech exercise. I was lucky enough to have an audience, however unenthusiastic they became after the first few run-throughs: my two daughters, aged three and five.

Daughters, plus a distant ostrich.
Daughters, plus a distant ostrich.

As a member of the Monday section, I headed to Macroeconomics for today’s session. Dinner is catered at 5:00 p.m., completely delicious and much appreciated in all of our busy schedules. I gave my persuasive speech at 6:00, which we can feature on the blog later this week. Several student presentations kicked off the class today, as well as introductions to today’s perspective student visitors.

A few of our lovely visitors with their student liaison.
A few of our lovely visitors with their student liaison.

I look forward to blogging daily this week, mixing it up with non-class activities and team meetings. Thanks for reading!

If true wealth is discretionary time, how rich are we?

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

After reading Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss, I considered a point he reiterated several times as it applies to the TMMBA. In his book, Weiss identifies his true measure of wealth: discretionary time. The idea is that wealth should not be measured by a bank account balance, a stockpile of resources, or the difference between monthly income and monthly expenses. Weiss asserts that the only way to measure our personal wealth is by measuring the amount of time with which we can do whatever we like.

MDCImage courtesy Amazon.com

Executives making seven figures, who work eighteen hours a day? Not wealthy. Small business owners who set their own hours and do what they love? Filthy rich. Parents who want music lessons and summer camp for their kids? That depends. If we must budget so closely to reach our goals that we sometimes require an injection of overtime pay, extra cash from babysitting or listing items on Craigslist, we may be doing just fine, but we are not rolling in discretionary time.

Assume that Alan Weiss has it right and this is the way we should measure our success: what does that mean for the TMMBA? Now that Class 13 has adjusted to the rigors of the program, how might we apply this concept to our new reality?

Working toward the TMMBA is a major investment. Not just of our finances, but of our wealth… our time.

As we invest our time in the TMMBA, what type of return on investment will we see? Remember, we’re still thinking in terms of wealth as discretionary time. For the hours that we put into the program, what kind of hours will we get back?

With Immersion Week and half of our first quarter under our belts, I can already see some of the time coming our way. As we continue in Financial Reporting and Analysis, I see a future in which I do not have to chase down an accountant, or plug an income statement line by line into a search engine to make sure that I understand what it’s telling me. I look forward to seeing how much time I save in future workplace conversations as our classes in professional communications, negotiations, and ethics prompt me to communicate exactly what I think, as opposed to hacking away at my point as I struggle to carve closer and closer to what it is I really mean but can’t quite get across. Finally, the knowledge we are accruing, every lesson we take home, will result in days when we have the answer to a problem, days without hesitation or desperation.

I see the TMMBA paying dividends.

TMMBA Acts: Taking Immersion Week Ethics to Heart

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

I have an ethical dilemma.

By pure chance, I subscribed to a Facebook page for a student veterans group that recently shared a link to an upcoming event. This link took me to an announcement of an enticing opportunity, an all-expense-paid weekend summit with one of the most sought-after technology employers in the United States. During this summit, the company will celebrate core military values, offering a small group of undergraduate and graduate business student veterans a chance to network and learn about their company culture.

As a Marine veteran and TMMBA student, I want to attend this summit. Every business student veteran reading this post wants to attend this summit, and every non-business non-veteran student reading this post wishes they met the criteria so they could attend this summit. I want it so much that I can feel the temptation to become secretive.

top secretImage via handpickedcollection.com

Several other veterans attend the TMMBA program; countless others study at the Foster School of Business. If they apply, how will that affect my (already slim) chances? Why should they benefit from my Facebook group subscription diligence? Am I under any obligation to share this information?

Fortunately, we took an Ethics seminar with Dr. Scott Reynolds during Immersion Week. I have the tools to resolve this dilemma.

If every person in the world withheld information to suit their goals, would that be a good thing? If every veteran withheld information to suit their goals, would we find that admirable? Would I personally benefit from such a standard?

Lost in thoughts

Image via 123rf.com

Which choice would add more value to the world as a whole? At its simplest, to withhold the announcement of a veterans summit, I gain the value of reduced competition, while each veteran who does not hear about the opportunity loses the value of a chance to apply. To share the news, I lose the value of better odds, while many more veterans gain the value of a chance at being selected. Lastly, the tech company, Google, gains the value of a diverse, competitive group from which to select their summit participants.

I hope every eligible person bookmarks this link to the Google Student Veterans Summit; applications open in the spring of 2013 with the summit to follow in July. If any University of Washington student finds a place in this select group, I will celebrate with justifiable pride in our entire veteran community. Good luck to all of you – just not too good.