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What would I do differently?

Mike McCarter, TMMBA Class of 2014
Mike McCarter, TMMBA Class of 2014

I always knew someone would ask me this question.   I’d supposed it would happen sometime after I graduated.   Or maybe the question would come from my children someday when I was old and gray– I certainly didn’t expect it in the last quarter of the program, but there it was.   The TMMBA Program Director, Tracy, asked the question;  “If you could do this whole MBA thing over again, what would you do differently?”

OK, so maybe she didn’t ask the question exactly like that.  She may have actually said something closer to “How’s it going?” or maybe just “Hi”.   Regardless of what had prompted Tracy’s inquiry that day in the hall, she deserved to know the answer that had plagued me for a solid month.

Here’s the background.  About a month earlier my team and I had set up a meeting with the executive director of a local non-profit to talk about a social media project.  We booked the meeting to occur a couple of hours ahead our Wednesday class session– and miraculously it finished up a bit early!   After treating myself to a second helping of taco buffet, I had found myself in the rare-yet-luxurious state of not having any plans.   I recall mingling in the buffet area for a while and then ambling into the Tech @ the Top room after hearing some mention of cheeseburgers in there.

Shortly after I found a seat, Tracy shut the door and introduced Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network.   Then it all clicked for me.   Five minutes earlier I had been joking with this guy at the taco buffet, wondering if he was going to take the last chalupa, and now I find out he is a legendary entrepreneur?!  The next hour flew by like it was fifteen minutes.   I learned about how Ben had quit a perfectly good job to see if he could parlay a funny cat picture into an multimillion dollar internet humor juggernaut (spoiler alert:  he did it).   Ben gave a fast-paced presentation followed by a wide-open Q&A session.  I got an incredible view into the mind of a truly creative entrepreneur with a street MBA and a truckload of wisdom.  More importantly, I got to ask Ben as many questions as I wanted about being an entrepreneur and scaling a company, which is a topic that interests me greatly.

from icanhascheezburger.com

A few weeks went by and I still found myself reflecting on Ben’s presentation and several impactful things he had shared.  I figured this must have been an anomaly– of course they couldn’t all be that good, right?  I secretly hoped so, because I’d been ignoring Tech @ the Top emails for over a year.  With small kids at home, a demanding job, a couple side ventures and an MBA-in-progress, I felt like I couldn’t afford to take on anything else.   Nonetheless, when the next Tech @ the Top Speaker Series event came along there I was, privately hoping that Jens Molbak, founder of Coinstar, would flop and confirm my anomaly theory.

Of course Jens didn’t flop, he was brilliant.  I still don’t know how he crammed it all into one hour, but we learned how he started Coinstar as a secret project during his MBA.  Jens told us about how he had interviewed 1500 people in front of grocery stores to refine his idea.  We sensed Jen’s pain from the continuous rejection by VCs.   Then we learned about the eventual revelation that enabled him to not only get seed funding, but ultimately raise $200m in VC investment (hint: it wasn’t about selling his idea better).   In less than 10 years, Jens succeeded in taking Coinstar public, caused the Mint to stop making coins, and enabled the donation of millions of dollars to a litany of charitable organizations.    As with my prior Tech @ the Top experience, I was blown away by the openness and accessibility of this inspiring entrepreneur.

Tech @ the Top Speaker Series - Jens Molbak

So there it is.  Not the answer I’d expected it would be, but true nonetheless.  If I could do it over again, I would go to every single Tech @ the Top speaker.  The absurdity is that I was already there on Wednesdays anyway– how hard would it have been to forgo that extra trip to the buffet and open my mind to meeting a new entrepreneur or business leader?  I’ll never know, but what I do know is that I missed the opportunity to get direct learnings and close interaction with senior executives from Costco, Docusign, Concur, Outerwall, PCC, and many others.    Here’s my advice to future Foster MBA students:  skip that extra chalupa and go to Tech @ the Top!

Xin Chào from Vietnam!

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

I’m currently writing this post from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where 22 Class 13 students have just kicked off their 10-day International Study Tour experience. Jet lag didn’t hold anyone back as we hit the ground running and began to explore this great city and all it has to offer.

Our first day of the tour acted as a great way for everyone to get our bearings – we started the day with a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City and explored the Presidential Palace and some beautiful French colonial buildings including the Notre Dame cathedral and city post office.

For the afternoon, we ventured out to the Mekong Delta and meandered through a maze of waterways. We had a couple stops along the way where we enjoyed local fruits and tea, music, and encountered a python (yes – I said a python). And a few folks were even brave enough to snap a few pictures with it. I was not one of them!

We capped the day with a celebratory welcome dinner to mark the beginning of an exciting tour to come. From a dynamic group of company visits that includes industries as such banking, technology, automotive, logistics, tax and inward investment, and market research and media (Ford, Cisco and Citi Bank to name a few companies) to unforgettable cultural experiences and phenomenal Vietnamese cuisine – the next 10-day will surely be a whirlwind that will not disappoint.

IST medium

 

About the TMMBA International Study Tour:
The International Study Tour experience is an optional tour for TMMBA students that occurs in the second year of study and gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different cultural and business context than the one in which we all typically operate day-to-day.  Students who partake in the tour have the opportunity to visit companies, tour manufacturing facilities, and meet business leaders and government officials. Click here to view blog posts from past Study Tour experiences.

Above & Beyond: TMMBA Students Participate in Recording-Breaking Holiday Drive for Food Lifeline

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

Earlier this month, TMMBA Class 13 & 14 joined forces during the annual holiday drive for Food Lifeline to raise a combined (unofficial) total of 1370 lbs of food donations! We’re pleased to share that this impressive contribution marks an unparalleled effort to that of any past TMMBA holiday food drive and certainly sets the bar high for future holiday drives to come. What’s even more notable is that the food drive took place during an extremely busy period for both cohorts, and yet the students still made this holiday food drive a shining success. A true testament to the strength of the TMMBA community!

In addition to our annual holiday drive, each year TMMBA also partners with Food Lifeline for a volunteer day at their Shoreline Distribution Center.  Our TMMBA group spent last Saturday afternoon repacking over 2800 lbs of wheat flour. Over the years, TMMBA students, alums, faculty, staff and family members have volunteered to repack over 12,000 lbs of food that has contributed to countless meals over the greater Western Washington region. The volunteer day serves as a great opportunity for the TMMBA community to connect with each other and support the tremendous need to end hunger in Western Washington. In 2012, Food Lifeline distributed more than 36 million pounds of food, the equivalent of more than 30 million meals, to feed hungry people throughout Western Washington.

A look @ the numbers:

  • 30 million: number of meals provided by Food Lifeline in 2012.
  • Over 12,000 lbs: total amount of food repacked by TMMBA volunteers @ Food Lifeline over the years.
    View past event photos
  • 1370 lbs: 2013 unofficial holiday food drive total.
  • 21: number of TMMBA volunteers @ 2013 volunteer event.

A look @ TMMBA in action:

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guys putting on aprons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to everyone at TMMBA who has volunteered or contributed to Food Lifeline over the years – we greatly appreciate your efforts and generosity!

Admissions Advice: rethinking the GMAT

Tina Bassir, TMMBA Associate Director, recently answered a question on the GMAT Ask the Expert video Q&A series. Watch the video below to hear some tips on how to think about the GMAT (and hopefully ease some of the anxiety of taking the exam). For information about all of the TMMBA application requirements, take a look at the TMMBA Application Process page for details. And join us on January 22 for the first Application Workshop of 2014.  (other dates are available too)

 

The Number One Obstacle Students Face During the Admissions Process:

Don’t be a Paper MBA

By David Lam, TMMBA Alumnus, Class of 2013

Don’t be a Paper MBA: Attend a Tech @The Top, career networking, or professional development event

Do you want to be a stronger business leader or is your choice to be a Paper MBA?  The TMMBA program has nearly monthly events that can help you stay relevant and are often invaluable opportunities to get connected to recognized business leaders.

Get Connected

Whether you are still in the classroom or have since graduated, opportunities to connect to recognized successful business leaders are invaluable. Interested in an insider’s account of established internationally recognized companies or perhaps prefer hearing about the local startup scene? The TMMBA program has an excellent variety across that spectrum from Walt Disney and Yahoo to WetPaint and LiquidPlanner. Thinking about partnering or career opportunities with a local company or subsidiary? Attending these events can really boost your network beyond what would normally be available to you. Cold-calling the CEO is very different to following up an earlier exchange at a recent TMMBA event.

Stay Relevant

I worked in Japan for a decade and had to be especially wary of ‘paper drivers’, particularly as a motorcycle was my primary way of commuting. This is a well-known phenomenon in Japan and refers to those who have received a license to drive but, since becoming certified, either had not or have very rarely actually gotten behind the wheel. My personal experience of passing the practical driving test in Japan was specific to a motorcycle license but it was an extremely grueling not to mention expensive process. Despite passing this very difficult practical driving test however, those who did not practice their new-found skills were really certified drivers on paper only. On the rare occasion when they do drive (and often long after passing the practical exams), these paper drivers were a danger to both themselves and others around them.

MBA graduates (and current students) have a similar risk.  Granted, the risk to life and limb for MBA graduates who do not continue to develop themselves is less than that of a paper driver, but the hard-won skills learnt in the classroom can also quickly deteriorate.  Graduating with an MBA is a grueling process that begins even before entering the classroom. From the GMAT and overall application process thru to the many, many months of countdown towards that blessed graduation date. It is clearly a significant investment in time and money. In choosing to undertake an MBA, is your goal to become certified on paper only and go no further to develop as a stronger business leader?

Attending the TMMBA events or workshops are an opportunity to learn from current and real-world applicable lessons. Often the talks are surprisingly open with many insights that can be gained, and are never dry case studies.

Avoid the risk of becoming a Paper MBA; continue to develop your business skills, stay relevant and get connected. Subscribe to the calendar at: http://www.foster.washington.edu/academic/tmmba/Pages/Tech-at-the-Top.aspx.

Other relevant events at: http://www.foster.washington.edu/academic/tmmba/pages/cal.aspx

Hope to see you at the next Tech @the Top or career networking night!

Capping the TMMBA experience

blog cap

The goal of any MBA capstone is to measure students’ ability to synthesize and demonstrate their understanding of key business and managerial frameworks, concepts and insights taught through the MBA coursework.  The capstone experience varies from program- to- program.  In researching and talking with my MBA and EMBA colleagues from around the U.S. it seems that capstones fall into three main categories:  case competitions, integrated or consulting projects and business plan competitions.

Remember your TMMBA capstone course or competition?

The TMMBA capstone experience has included case competitions (2002-2007), technology commercialization course and competition (2008-2010) and most recently a Venture Capital Investment course and competition (2011-2012).  To varying degrees, each of these capstones met the goals of a capstone and we appreciate all our various stakeholders for making each one a success.

As you reflect on your experience what comes to mind? 

I’m looking to our TMMBA community for constructive input, suggestions and ideas to move this experience forward.  I’m a firm believer that none of us are as smart as all of us – and while there may not be a “silver bullet” for the capstone experience, I’m certain with your help we can get very close!

There is always room to improve, innovate and evolve.

In the next monthly alumni TMMBA email we’ll announce the date for an early January dinner meeting – we’ll catch up and talk capstone!

I hope you will consider helping.

 

Tracy

Tracy Gojdics is the Director of the TMMBA Program and an alumna from the Class of 2007. Outside of the office you might find Tracy out hiking, running, reading, or spending quality time with her family. Tracy can be contacted at tracylt@uw.edu or via phone at 206-616-2610.

EQ │Personal Branding │Your Career

Successful business careers evolve from a combination of IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence quotient).  So, why is high EQ important?  Here are a few points:

An analysis of more than 300 top-level executives from fifteen global companies showed that six emotional competencies distinguished stars from the average: Influence, Team Leadership, Organizational Awareness, self-confidence, Achievement Drive, and Leadership (Spencer, L. M., Jr., 1997).

According to Dr. Patsi Krakoff, research by the Center for Creative Leadership found that the primary causes of derailment in executives involve deficits in emotional competence. Specifically, these executives have difficulty handling change, working well in teams, and interpersonal relationships.

Further, Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, said:

a leader’s intelligence has to have a strong emotional component. He has to have high levels of self-awareness, maturity and self-control. She must be able to withstand the heat, handle setbacks and when those lucky moments arise, enjoy success with equal parts of joy and humility. No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.”

Developing Both Your IQ and EQ in TMMBA

The TMMBA Program recognizes the importance of cultivating both your “book smarts” and your EQ.  A comprehensive business management curriculum is balanced with EQ reflection & action: a better understanding of who you are, what you are learning & where it’s being applied, what you have to offer (contributions), and where you are going.  The effort in answering these questions among other experiences compliments your MBA experience and assists with your leadership development (and career trajectory).

In the last month, two TMMBA Career Services events were designed around the EQ element of self-awareness through personal branding.  The end goal was an improved ability to concisely introduce oneself (via resume, LinkedIn, pitch, etc.) with a story that makes sense, builds emotional connections, and inspires dialogue.

1.  WHY MATTERS: SWOT #personalbranding Workshop:

Brand Strategist Kevin Susman taught participants how to use a personal SWOT, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats, to improve a pitch to others.  He began with defining the difference between products (selling specific features) and the more powerful brands that are fueled by emotion & trust.

This SWOT analysis framework was used:

Internal to achieving career objectives

Know your STRENGTHS to build connection

Need to be relevant to market/customer

Create high-level 3-sentence statement that answers:

  • What you offer (particular need to be filled)
  • How you help customers achieve goals? (single statement of benefit)
  • Who you are (positive personality trait)
Admit to WEAKNESSES

Understand them and be able to turn into strengths.

Answer these questions in 3-6 words per bullet.

  • The flaw in your offering
  • How you hold yourself back
  • Who you are: negative

External to achieving career objectives

Know your OPPORTUNITIES 

Examples:

  • Current professional network
  • “You” as defined by strengths and weaknesses
Understand THREATS (risks)

Examples:

  • Professional network fatigue
  • Perceptions of you

2. TMMBA Career Boot Camp:

This four-hour session outlined new ways to think about and share a personal brand and authentic voice in promotion to organizations.  It included creating a comfortable elevator speech and resume & LinkedIn profile to stand out from the competition.

Two LinkedIn takeaways: 

  • Create a Professional Headline on LinkedIn.  Be aware that the headline words are “weighted” 40% more than the rest of your profile.  This weighting helps recruiters find you – amidst your competition.A headline is the place to sum up your professional identity in 120 characters or less (15-20 words). Focus on who you are + what you do (your expertise/value) and audience you serve.  It does not have to be your current job title.Consider using a brand tagline or personal title but ensure that it helps people understand what you do. If you are in the job market (passively or actively), use keywords that reflect the titles or expertise you are seeking.
  • More keywords aren’t always better.  Our advice would be to only include the keywords (including repeated keywords) in your Profile that best reflect your expertise and experience.  If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your Profile, you are likely showing up in a high number of searches.  The question you need to ask yourself, however, is whether members consider your Profile relevant to their search.  If not, their behavior as a collective group may be influencing the algorithm used to rank you in search results.

Introducing TMMBA Class 14

What do Nov 14, 2013 and June 8, 2015 have in common?

For a group of 79 working professionals in the Puget Sound region, these two dates are significant milestones. Nov 14 will be an exciting day that marks the beginning of a journey. And June 8 2015 will be a celebratory day marking a big accomplishment. These 79 people are the newest class of TMMBA students. Their journey begins on Nov 14 with their Welcome Reception when they will come together as a cohort for the first time. Now fast forward 18+ months into the future… on June 8, 2015, TMMBA Class 14 will be graduating with their Masters of Business Administration from the UW Foster School of Business.

Who is TMMBA Class 14? Let’s take a look:

  • 79 highly motivated individuals
  • Average years of work experience = 11
  • 43 companies represented
  • 10 countries represented
  • 39% of the students have an advanced degree
  • 610 average GMAT score

To the students of Class 14  – Welcome to the TMMBA Community!

TMMBA heading to Vietnam in 2014

The TMMBA Program is pleased to announce that Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi) will be the 2014 TMMBA International Study Tour (IST) destination.  The Study Tour allows students, alumni, staff and faculty to experience business and culture a different world environment through personal meetings with executives and senior managers, entrepreneurs, company visits, government agencies and cultural excursions.  The IST allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to another business and cultural environment and to develop and grow the global mindset necessary to be successful in an international business environment. Participants also have a lot of fun as they learn more about each other and create friendships that will last a lifetime.

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Vietnam:

 

  • Predicted to be one of the fastest-growing of the world’s emerging economies by 2025.
  • Manufacturing, IT and high-tech industries now form a large and fast-growing part of the national economy.
  • One of Asia’s most open economies. Economic reforms pushing toward a system of capitalism.
  • U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement opens up new markets for U.S. goods and services, and as Vietnam meets its WTO commitments, the Vietnam market represents the next great opportunity for all types of American companies.
  • Privately owned enterprises encouraged, and entrepreneurship has played a significant role in the country’s growth rate, in line just behind China and India.
  • Investment in infrastructure and tax incentives to stimulate the tech industry. Heavy investment in industry parks.

The IST is definitely a highlight of the program.  Read more about the TMMBA International Study tour by reading student, alumni, staff and faculty blogs from previous trips.

This year we have a record number of students participating and we’ll open up a few spots to alumni as well.  Should be another great International Study Tour!

TracyTracy Gojdics is the Director of the TMMBA Program and an alumna from the Class of 2007. Outside of the office you might find Tracy out hiking, running, reading, or spending quality time with her family. Tracy can be contacted at tracylt@uw.edu or via phone at 206-616-2610.

Fun in the sun with TMMBA

Nhi-Huong Huynh, Fiscal Specialist, TMMBA

Recently, TMMBA students, alums and their families got together at Bellevue Downtown Park for the annual TMMBA Picnic. We all had a great time and it was really nice to see so many people come out for the event.

The TMMBA picnic is one of many social events hosted by TMMBA throughout the year. These gathering provide an opportunity to relax, celebrate their accomplishments, and network with their classmates and alumni.

I’m looking forward to another fun-filled event this fall.

TMMBA Picnic
TMMBA Humanized